The Last Circle - book
Wed, 14 Aug 2019 11:22
RE: "The Last Circle"
The following condensed version of The Last Circle was provided in October 1996to a secret Investigative Committee comprised of Congress people, lawyers andformer POW's at their request. I originally contacted Congresswoman MaxineWaters in Washington D.C. and offered information relative to CIA drugtrafficking, but was told the information was too complex and would I mindputting the information into a newspaper story, get it published and send it toher office?
I agreed and contacted a local newspaper reporter who, after reading portions ofthe material, decided it needed to be reviewed by individuals who had specialknowledge of CIA drug trafficking, arms shipments, and biological warfareweapons.
After a brief meeting with these individuals, former Special Forces soldiersfrom the Vietnam era, they asked for copies of the manuscript, guaranteed animmediate congressional inquiry, and advised me NOT to place the information onthe Internet as they feared the information could be, in theirwords, "taken as just another anti-government conspiracy."
I condensed the manuscript into the attached treatise, covering informationrelative to THEIR focus, and sent it to them along with key documents. Shortlyafterward, they re-contacted me and set up elaborate security measures to insuremy safety. As of this writing, I've had no need to institute those measures.
I have in my possession five boxes of documents, obtained from a convictedmethamphetamine chemist whose closest friends were a 20-year CIAoperative and a former FBI Senior-Agent-in-Charge of the Los Angeles andWashington D.C. bureaus. The labyrinthine involvements of these people andtheir corporate partners is revealed in this manuscript, along with informationobtained by Washington D.C. journalist Danny Casolaro prior tohis death in 1991.
A great deal of investigation still needs to be accomplished. I have neitherthe financial means nor the ability to obtain "evidence" for "prosecution." I am simply an investigative writer, placing this information into the publicforum in hopes that someone, somewhere, will grasp the significance of the dataand initiate a full-scale investigation with subsequent subpoena power.
With subpoena power, government agents can testify (some kept anonymous in thismanuscript) who would otherwise lose their jobs and retirement if they cameforward. Witnesses can be protected and/or provided immunity, and financialtransactions of government and underworld figures can be scrutinized.
To date, I have not had more than one hour conversation with anyone associatedwith any Congressional investigation, and therefore am extremely limited in myability to present the information I have. Much of what I learned during myfive-year investigation cannot at this point be inserted into a manuscript. Imust be assured the information and witnesses will be handled appropriately.
I personally do not believe the Department of Justice will ultimately "prosecute"this or any other drug trafficking case if it involves government officials. But I have made the effort to put forth enough information to generate interestand show good faith. I hope it will be of some value to the American public.
Please keep in mind as you read the attached pages that the complex corporatestructures and technological projects described herein "may" have beennothing more than an elaborate smoke and mirrors cover for narcoticstrafficking.
This aspect of my investigation was corroborated by several governmentinvestigators, one of whom was a House Judiciary investigator, who spent threeyears investigating the Inslaw stolen software case and said in response to myfindings:
"There's some great information here. You did a very good investigativejob, I have to commend you on that. I realize it's only a fraction ofeverything you have. What you have done, you have put the pieces of thewhole thing together. Little bits and pieces of things that I have knownabout, that I had theorized about, you have found answers to those specificquestions." (See Chapter 13 for entire conversation). That investigatoris now in the White House Office of Drug Control Policy.
To those interested, nearly everything noted in the attached manuscript issupported by documents or tape recorded interviews. Some are extremely bulkyand not quoted extensively in the manuscript, such as lengthy FBI wire tapsummaries.
I wish to thank Garby Leon, formerly Director of Development at Joel SilverProductions, Warner Bros. in Burbank, California for tirelessly prompting me toget a first draft of The Last Circle written in 1994 and helping me withcountless tasks during our joint investigation of the death of Danny Casolaro.
Copyright 1994 - All Rights Reserved
By Carol MarshallNOTE:
This is a FIRST DRAFT, bare-bones, unpolished manuscript without prose,characterizations etc.
For the deputies of the Mariposa Sheriff's Department, theawakening occurred on June 24, 1980, when deputy Ron Van Meterdrowned in an alleged boating accident on Lake McClure. Thesearch party consisted mainly of three divers, deputies Dave Beavers,Rod Cusic and Gary Estep. Although adjacent counties offeredadditional divers, sheriff Paul Paige refused outside help, even a minisubmarineoffered by Beavers' associate.
In the shallow, placid waters of Lake McClure, Van Meter's body was not recovered that week, and indeed would not be found untilten years later, in September, 1990 when his torso, wrapped in a fish net andweighted down by various objects, including a fire extinguisher, washed ashore afew hundred yards from where Sergeant Roderick Sinclair's houseboat had oncebeen moored.
Van Meter's widow, Leslie, had been at home baking cookies whenshe was notified of her husband's disappearance. She was an Indian girl who hadno affinity with sheriff Paul Paige. The horror began for her that day also. Her home was ransacked and her husband's briefcase and diary were seized by theMariposa Sheriff's department. Only she and a few deputies knewwhat Van Meter's diary contained. He'd told his wife he'd taken out a speciallife insurance policy two weeks before, but after the search that was missingalso.
Leslie was taken to a psychiatric clinic for evaluation shortly after theincident.The story surfaced years later, one tiny bubble at a time. Theselfinvolved little community of Mariposa did not cough up itssecrets gladly. On March 23, 1984, Leslie Van Meter filed aCitizen's Complaint with the Mariposa County Sheriff's department alleging thatthe Sheriff's office had been negligent and unprofessional in theirinvestigation of her husband's disappearance. His body had still not beenfound, despite private searches by Sergeant Beavers and otherfriends of the missing deputy. She wanted the case reopened.
Paul Paige was no longer sheriff, but newly elected Sheriff Ken Mattheysresponded by reopening the investigation. Investigator Raymond Jenkins, a Merced College Police Chief, and retired FBI agent Tom Walsh fromMerced, were notified by Sheriff Mattheys in October, 1984 that the Van Meter case had been reopened and he wanted their help in cleaning up theSheriff's Department.
Their investigation led them straight to the doorstep of MCA Corporation(Music Corporation of America), parent company to Curry Company, the largestconcessionaire in Yosemite National Park. A major drug network had surfaced inthe park, compelling one park ranger, Paul Berkowitz, to go before the HouseInterior Subcommittee on National Parks and Recreation to testify about drugdistribution by Curry Company officials.
Ed Hardy, the president of Curry Company, was closely associated with MariposaCounty officials, in particular, Mariposa District Attorney Bruce Eckerson,County Assessor Steve Dunbar, and Congressman Tony Coelho, whosedistrict encompassed Mariposa and the Park. The annual camping trips that thethree men took together was encouraged by the local townsfolk because most ofMariposa's tax base emanated from Curry Company.Coelho and Hardy were regularfixtures around town, seen at most of the social events. Coelho even cooked andserved spaghetti dinners for the whole town annually at the Mariposa FairGrounds, and purchased property in partnership with one member of the MariposaBoard of Supervisors. In fact, Mariposa was one of the first places he bidfarewell to after resigning from Congress to avoid an investigation of hisfinances.
Meanwhile, investigator Raymond Jenkins hadfollowed the drug trail from Yosemite back to the Mariposaairport, where sheriff's deputies were seen regularly loading and unloadingpackages from planes in the dead of night.
One Indian girl complained bitterly about deputies using the Sara Priestland allottment (reservation) to grow marijuana and operate methamphetaminelabs. Jenkins, by now retired from the position of PoliceChief of Merced College, was called in to interview the Indian girl. That sameday, as a favor, he provided me with copies of his notes. I followed up with atape recorded interview at her home in Bear valley. Her father and uncleoperated a small auto dismantling business on the reservation in Midpines, andafter locating them and gaining their confidence, the uncle drove me out toWhiskey Flats, the site of the marijuana and methamphetamine lab operations.That week I rented a horse and rode down into the rocky, isolated valley ofWhiskey Flats. Brush and shrubbery tore at the saddle on the horse and at theend of the dirt path I encountered three snarling Rottweiler dogs who put thehorse into a frenzied lather.
Nevertheless, I managed to photograph the irrigation system, artesian spring andpond from which the water was supplied as well as various points ofidentification for future reconnaisance. I later returned in a fourwheel drivepickup truck and managed to view the trailer and lab shack.
The tape recorded interview with the Indian girl, the photos and notes from mydiscovery were provided to the Stanislaus County Drug Task Force, butjurisdictionally, they couldn't enter Mariposa County withoutauthority of the Mariposa Sheriff's department. It was a catch 22 situation.Ultimately I provided the same information anonymously to several relatedagencies. It was not until 1993 that the fields were eradicated, and 1994,before the labs were raided. However, no arrests of any deputies were everforthcoming. In fact, no arrests occurred at all, except for a fewnonEnglish speaking Mexican nationals who had handled the "cooking." The head of the Los Angeles Drug Enforcement Agency noted to a localnewspaper that the meth lab was part of a large California drug network, butthey were unable to identify the kingpins.
On July 6, 1985, Mrs. Van Meter filed a "Request forOfficial Inquiry" with the State of California Department of Boating andWaterways stating that no satisfactory investigation was ever conducted intothe matter of her husband's disappearance.
That same month, shortly after a meeting at Lake McClure withMrs. Van Meter, Sheriff Mattheys mysteriously resigned from hisposition at the Mariposa Sheriff's Department. Mattheys revealedto reporter Anthony Pirushki that he had been ordered by two county supervisorsand the county's attorney "to stay away from the Van Meter investigation." But that was not the reason he resigned. The whole story would not surfaceuntil seven years later when a reporter for the Mariposa Guide interviewed him.
However, while still in office, Mattheys and his internal affairs investigatorshad learned the reason for Van Meter's disappearance. A fewweeks prior to his death in 1980, Van Meter had driven to the Attorney General'soffice in Sacramento and reported drug dealing and other types ofcorruption within the Mariposa Sheriff's Department. This,according to his friends whom he had confided in, deputies Dave Beavers,a fifteen year veteran of the sheriff's department, and Rod Cusic, aseventeen year veteran. Both deputies were ultimately forced out of thedepartment and retired on stress leave.
On that same day, reserve deputy Lucky Jordan had driven to the Fresno office ofthe FBI to report similar information. According to Jordan, they had split upand reported to separate agencies in the event "something" happenedto one of them.The crux of the story was State Attorney General Van De Kamp'sresponse to the requested investigaion by Ron Van Meter. WhenRon returned home from Sacramento, he was confronted by Sheriff Paige. Paigehad received a call from the Attorney General informing him of the visit andits contents, and the sheriff was livid about Van Meter's betrayal.Van Meterhad been photographing and journalizing drug activity by deputies at LakeMcClure. He was part of a California StateAbatement Program which involved harvesting and eradicating marijuana fields inYosemite National Park and adjacent counties. Instead, the harvested marijuanawas being stored in abandoned cars and towed out of town by a local wreckerunder contract with the sheriff's department. It was also being distributed ata hidden cove at Lake McClure.
On June 24, 1980, frustrated and angry at the Attorney General for betrayinghim, Van Meter had borrowed a boat and was on his way to arrestthe deputies at Lake McClure himself. He never returned. The investigation of Van Meter's "accident" was initially handled bySergeant Roderick Sinclair, who could not have known on that fateful day that inexactly three years, three months, and nineteen days, he would enter theTwilight Zone where his own private hell awaited him.
The first substantial hint that a tentacle of the Octopus had slithered intoMariposa County occurred on March 5, 1983 when a Mariposa CountySheriff's vehicle scouting Queen Elizabeth II's motorcade route rounded a curvein the Yosemite National Park foothills, crossed a highway and collided headonwith a Secret Service car, killing three Secret Service agents. CHP (CaliforniaHighway Patrol) Assistant Chief Richard Hanna reported that the collisionoccurred at 10:50 a.m. between Coulterville and La Grange on Highway 132 about25 minutes ahead of Queen Elizabeth's motorcade.CHP Sergeant Bob Schillyreported that Mariposa County Sheriff's Sergeant Roderick Sinclair, 43, wasdriving with his partner, Deputy Rod McKean, 51, when "for some reason, [hedidn't] know why," Sinclair crossed the center line and hit the second ofthe three Secret Service cars, which went tumbling down a 10foot embankment.
The three Secret Service agents killed in the collision were identified asGeorge P. LaBarge, 41, Donald Robinson, 38, and Donald A. Bejcek, 29. Sinclair,who had sustained broken ribs and a fractured knee, was first stabilized atFremont Hospital in Mariposa, then transported several days laterto Modesto Memorial Hospital.
Years later, several nurses who had been present when Sinclair was brought intoFremont Hospital confided that Sinclair had been drugged on the day of "theQueen's accident" as it became known in Mariposa. Formonths Sinclair had been receiving huge daily shots of Demerol, "enough tokill most men," according to one billing clerk. Some former deputies whohad feared punitive measures if they spoke up, later corroborated the story ofthe nurses.
Meanwhile, Assistant U.S. Attorney James White in Fresno ordered Dr. ArthurDahlem's files seized to prove Sinclair's drug addiction. Sinclair's Mariposadoctor and close friend had been prescribing heavy sedatives to him for years. When White attempted to prosecute Sinclair for criminal negligence, he wascalled into chambers during the federal probe and told by U.S. District CourtJudge Robert E. Coyle to "drop the criminal investigation" becauseSinclair's drug problem was not relevant to the prosecution and the drug recordscould not be used in court. Judge Coyle's reasoning was that no blood tests hadbeen taken on Sinclair at the Fremont Hospital on the day of the accident,therefore no case could be made against him.
In fact, the blood tests HAD been taken, but later disappeared.A significantpiece of information relative to Judge Coyle's background was passed to meduring my investigation of the Queen's accident by retired FBI agent ThomasWalsh. Allegedly, the Judge was once the attorney of record for Curry Company(owned by MCA Corporation) in Yosemite National Park. I later learned, in 1992,that Robert Booth Nichols had strong ties to MCA Corporation through EugeneGiaquinto, president of MCA Corporation Home Entertainment Division. Giaquintohad been on the Board of Directors of Nichols' corporation, MIL, Inc. (MeridianInternational Logistics, Inc.) and also held 10,000 shares of stock in theholding corporation. MIL, Inc. was later investigated by the Los Angeles FBIfor allegedly passing classified secrets to overseas affiliates in Japan andAustralia. It is interesting to note, though unrelated, that shortly afterward,the Japanese purchased MCA Corporation, one of the largest corporate purchasesto take place in American history.
Relative to the Queens accident, in the civil trial that followed the tragicaccident, Judge Coyle ruled that both Sinclair and the deceased Secret Serviceagents were at fault. Mariposa County was ordered to pay 70percent of the claim filed by the widows, and the Secret Service to pay 30percent. The county's insurance company paid the claim, and ironically,Sinclair was subsequently promoted to Commander of the Mariposa Sheriff'sDepartment where he is still employed as of this writing.
In an interview on March 7, 1988, at Yoshino's Restaurant in Fresno, former U.S.Attorney James White recalled that the original CHP report on the Queensaccident was sent to the State Attorney General's office (Van De Kamp) inSacramento. The report was first received by Arnold Overoye, who agreed withWhite that Sinclair should be prosecuted. But when the report crossed Van DeKamp's desk, he told Overoye and his assistant to discard it trash it.
Van De Kamp then appointed Bruce Eckerson, the Mariposa CountyDistrict Attorney, to take charge of the investigation and submit a new report. Coincidentally, Bruce Eckerson's disclosure statements on file at the MariposaCounty Courthouse indicated that he owned stock in MCA EntertainmentCorporation. White added that ALL of the crack M.A.I.T.S. team CHP officersinvolved in the original investigation either resigned or were transferred (orfired) afterward. The CHP Commander and the Deputy Commander who supervised theM.A.I.T.S. investigation also resigned as did Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitehimself after the coverup took place.
However, White noted that before he resigned, he quietly filed with StephanLaPalm of the U.S. Attorney's office in Sacramento the transcripts of the trialand an affidavit which listed the "hallucinatory" drugs Sinclair hadused prior to the accident. I privately continued with the Queen's accidentinvestigation, interviewing deputies Dave Beavers and Rod Cusicwho had been privy to Sinclair's drugged condition on the day of the accident.
Beavers, who was the first deputy to arrive on the scene,maintained four years later, in 1987, that he was cognizant of Sinclair'scondition, but when he was questioned by James White he was NOT ASKED about thedrugs. (James White had by then been ordered to drop the criminal investigationand stay away from the drug aspect of the case).
In January 1988, deputy Rod Cusic strode into the offices of theMariposa Guide, a competitor newspaper to the Mariposa Gazette,and stated that he was "told by Rod Sinclair to lie to a Grand Jury"about Sinclair's drug addiction and the resulting Queen's accident. Cusic addedthat he officially disclosed this to the Fresno FBI on April 26, 1984 and againon October 9, 1987. In 1987, Cusic also noted that he witnessed a boobytrappedincendiary device explode at Rod Sinclair's home during a visit to hisresidence. Additionally, earlier on, Sinclair allegedly barricaded himselfinside his home and boobytrapped the property, as witnessed by numerous deputieswho tried to persuade him to come out.
While reviewing old newspaper clippings from the MariposaGazette, I discovered an odd sidebar to the story. In December, 1984, duringthe Queen's accident civil trial in Fresno, U.S. Attorney James White hadintroduced testimony that Sinclair's vehicle contained "a myriad ofautomatic weapons including a boobytrapped bomb" when the collisionoccurred on March 5, 1983. It was not until 1991 that I discovered the depth ofthe coverup.
A CBS television executive and a Secret Service agent who had ridden in thethird car of the Queen's motorcade in 1983, arrived in Mariposato enlist my help in putting the pieces of the puzzle together on the Queen'saccident. The Secret Service agent's best friend had been the driver of the carin which all three agents were killed. I signed a contract with the televisionexecutive for the sale of the story then drove them to the site of the accident,then to the site of where the damaged vehicle was stored near Lake McClure. The Secret Service agent broke down at the sight of the vehicle,remembering the gruesome appearance of his dead friend in the front seat. Heturned, tears welling in his eyes, and said, "His heart burst right throughhis chest and was laying in his lap when I found him."
Dave Beavers joined us the next day. As did former sheriff KenMattheys. Beavers did not know that the same Secret Service agent whom he wassitting with in the car was the man who had tried to pull Sinclair out of thesheriff's vehicle on the day of the accident. There had been a scuffle, Beaversinsisting that Sinclair go to the hospital with "his own people," andthe Secret Service ultimately conceding.The Secret Service agent reflected sadlythat they didn't know to ask the hospital for blood tests on Sinclair that day,didn't know of his drug addiction. By the time the case went to court, therecords at the hospital were gone.
Two weeks after the agent left Mariposa, I received a packetcontaining copies of Sinclair's drug records for three years prior to theaccident. They were the same records that U.S. District Court Judge RobertCoyle had disallowed in the Queen's accident trial. But it was not untilproducer Don Thrasher, a tenyear veteran of ABC News "20/20," came totown, that I learned of Sinclair's background, or the extent of his addiction.
By chance, at a book signing engagement at B. Dalton Bookstore, I had mentionedto the manager, Shaula Brent, that my next book contained information about theQueens accident.Surprised, Shaula blurted out that she had worked at FremontHospital when Sinclair was brought in from the accident. Shaula recounted thefollowing: Rod Sinclair was brought into Fremont Hospital and placed in a roomwith an armed "FBI" agent outside the door. Sinclair had beenreceiving huge shots of Demerol in the arm every day prior to the accident, byorder of Dr. Arthur Dahlem. Shaula noted that Sinclair was a big man and theamount of Demerol he had been receiving would have killed most men. After theQueen's accident, all drugs were withdrawn from Sinclair, and employees,including Shaula, could hear him raving aloud for days from his hospital room. The employees at the hospital were instructed not to speak about or repeat whattook place at the hospital while Sinclair was there.
Because Shaula and her friend, Barbara Locke, who also worked at the hospital,were suspicious about Sinclair's hospital records, they secretly took photostatsof the records "before they were destroyed by the hospital." BloodHAD been drawn on Sinclair on the day of the Queen's accident, and he HAD beenunder the influence, according to Shaula. Shaula gave the names of six nurseswho were witness to Sinclair's condition at the time he was brought into FremontHospital. When his body was finally drugfree, Sinclair was transported, againsthis wishes, to Modesto Hospital.
In January, 1992, the final pieces to the puzzle fell into place. Sinclair'sbackground had been the key all along. Producer Don Thrasher hadinterviewed the Secret Service agent and, although the information he obtainedwould not be used in his production, he advised me to follow up. The SecretService corraborated the following profile: Sinclair's father had been amilitary attache to General Douglas MacArthur during World War II. (I hadprivately mused how many of MacArthur's men later became arms of the Octopus). In Japan, after the war, Colonel Sinclair (sr.) supervised the training ofselected Japanese in intelligence gathering operations.
According to the Secret Service, he was an "international figure,"highly regarded in the intelligence community. Rod Sinclair, Jr. attended school in Japan during this time. He laterreportedly worked in the Army C.I.D. in a nonmilitary or civilian capacity,allegedly receiving training at Fort Liggett in San Luis Obispo, a trainingcenter for military intelligence operations.
Could it have been possible for Colonel Sinclair, Sr. to have called upon oldfriends in high places to rescue his son, Rod, from the Queen's accidentinvestigation? Did the Octopus have enough power to alter an investigation ofthe death of three Secret Service agents? According to the Secret Serviceagent in Los Angeles, it did. And he intended to tell the story after heretired.
By this time three consecutive grand jury foreman's had sought help from theAttorney General, to no avail. It came to pass that one of the deputies, DaveBeavers, was having trouble obtaining his "stress leave"pay and hired a Jackson, California lawyer to represent him in the case. Thelawyer, Ben Wagner, not only interviewed Beavers, but began interviewing otherdeputies who corroborated Beavers' story. Most of them, thirteen in all, had atone time or another testified before the grand jury and subsequently beenforced out of the department. Interestingly, none of the deputies knew "why"the others had been been placed on stress leave or resigned until Wagner finallyassembled them together and the story was aired.
At that point some of the former grand jury members were called in to confirmthe testimony of the individual deputies. Most refused to speak up, but a fewcorroborated the deputies' story. Ultimately, after numerous meetings, thegroup of deputies and grand jurors formed and later incorporated an organizationthey called D.I.G. (Decency in Government).
By now, Wagner was carrying a gun inside and out of Mariposa forthe first time in his life and writing letters to the Attorney General, the FBI,and even President Ronald Reagan. One response was forthcoming, from a specialagent at the Fresno Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement.Thisagent listened to Kay Ritter, a former grand jury foreman and several deputiesafter reviewing Wagner's evidence.
Wagner was contemplating a huge civil rights lawsuit against the county ofMariposa, but it was imperative that he first understand "why"the attorney general refused to help these people.When the special agent droveto Sacramento and reviewed the files within the attorney general's officeemanating from Mariposa, and talked to some of the office staff there, helearned that everything pertaining to Mariposa was automatically "trashed"when it crossed the A/G's desk.
Disgusted, the agent called Ben Wagner and told him "Go ahead with thelawsuit." He had no idea why all the grand jury documents had beentrashed, but he was convinced no help would be forthcoming from the attorneygeneral's office.
On November 20, 1987, Wagner filed with the U.S. District Court in Fresno thefirst of two lawsuits, later revealed in a Sacramento newspaper to be thelargest civil rights lawsuits ever recorded in California history. Newspaperreporters and television crews flocked to Wagner for interviews. In oneinstance, Wagner, former Sergeant Dave Beavers and others stood infront of the Fresno FBI building while being interviewed by Channel 3 SacramentoNews.
On camera, without hesitation, Beavers recalledobserving deputies carrying packages of drugs from the Gold CoinSaloon, a notorious drug hangout, and placing the packages in the trunk of theirpatrol car. A subsequent raid indicated the drugs had been stored by the ownerin a historic underground tunnel once used by the infamous bandit, JuaquinMurietta, to escape the sheriff's posse.
Meanwhile, on February 10, 1988, attorney Wagner filed at the U.S. DistrictCourt in Sacramento a Writ of Mandamus against John Van De Camp, the StateAttorney General; George Vinson, regional director of the Fresno FBI; GeorgeDeukemejian, then Governor of California, and David F. Levi, United StatesAttorney for refusing to investigate corruption in MariposaCounty.
The citizens of Mariposa were choosing sides, writing letters tothe editor, arguing amongst themselves, and being interviewed on the sidewalksby news media. D.I.G. was the talk of the town. On February 17, 1988, CapitolNews Service in Sacramento ran a story entitled, "Law & Order Failingon Hill County," by Jerry Goldberg. The article noted that Capitol NewsService had had discussions with several Attorney General staff members who "stonewalledquestions about any investigation of charges or direct answers on thewillingness of Van de Kamp to meet with the citizen's group [D.I.G.]."
Goldberg mentioned the "Queen's accident" in his article: "TheFresno case charges destruction of records on individuals [Commander RodSinclair] involved in the case. This includes possible information about thefatal accident which occurred in the area [of Mariposa County]when an escort vehicle involved in the visit of Queen Elizabeth in 1983[crashed.]"
Goldberg went on to note that "several people had received threats aboutdangerous things happening to them if they continued to stand up to the sheriffand district attorney." A San Joaquin County official, who asked not to benamed, told Goldberg that a key element to the problems in MariposaCounty "related to the fatal accident which occurred to Queen Elizabeth'sescort vehicle."
On February 19, 1988, Ben Wagner's wife, a legal secretary, sent a letter toPresident Ronald Reagan at the White House. The Wagners did not live inMariposa County, indeed, lived far away in Jackson County,unfettered by corruption, yet they saw fit to take it upon themselves to writefor help. That emotionally gripping letter was headed, "Restoring EqualRights to the Citizens of Mariposa County." It read as follows:
"Dear President Reagan: I am writing to you not only as the wifeof an attorney, but as a citizen of the United States. My initial concern isthat you personally receive this letter and enclosures, as many residents ofMariposa County have literally placed their lives, and the livesof their families in jeopardy by coming forth to expose the local governmentcorruption detailed herein.I understand that your time is at a premium, however,your immediate attention regarding these matters is of the utmost importance,and respectfully requested.
"In August, 1987, our office was approached by several exdeputies andindividuals from Mariposa County requesting assistance inredressing unlawful and corrupt activities by officials and departments withintheir local government, and failure on the part of the State Attorney GeneralJohn Van De Kamp, the Office of the Attorney General, and our Federal agencies,to investigate these alleged activities.
"What we found through our initial investigations and accumulation ofevidence into these allegations was appalling. It took us time to realize thatin fact, the Constitution of the United States had been suspended in thiscounty.
"The organization, Decency in Government [D.I.G.], was formed, and onNovember 20, 1987, the first multimillion dollar Civil Rights suit was filed inFresno. We felt media coverage would lay a solid ground of personal safety forother complaintants to come forth. This coverage proved to be successful, andon February 11, 1988, the second Civil Rights suit was filed, along with thefiling of a Writ of Mandamus in Sacramento.
"I have enclosed copies of these suits, including several newspaperarticles regarding the situation. Since 1979, many residents, includingindividuals, sheriff's deputies, groups, organizations, members of Grand Juriesand Grand Juries have taken their complaints to the Office of the AttorneyGeneral, State Attorney General John Van De Kamp and Federal authorities forinvestigation.
"These agencies have continuously and blatantly failed to redress thegrievances of these citizens. What appears to be a consistent procedure of oneArnold O. Overoye, of the State Attorney General's Office, is to refer thecomplaints directly back to the local agencies to whom the complaints were made.
"Over the years, this has perpetrated threats, intimidation and fear bythese local officials to the complaining individuals. There has also beenquestions regarding the disappearance of citizens possessing incriminatingevidence, and the incompletion or failure to investigate `homicides' and`suicides'.
"Further, it has recently come to our attention, that Mr. Overoye's`procedure,' and the inaction of State Attorney John Van De Camp and Federalagencies is not limited to Mariposa County, but in fact, expandsto a number of foothill countieswho are experiencing the same types of local corruption.
"The grievances of these citizens, as you will note in paragraph IV of theWRIT are: (1) Violation of Individual Civil Rights (2) Abuse of discretion inthe prosecution of criminal complaints (3) Intentional obstruction of the duecourse of Justice (4) Malicious prosecution (5) Bribery (6) Intimidation ofGrand Jury members and witnesses (7) The deprivation of property (8) Illegaland unlawful land transaction (9) The failure to arrest and prosecute thoseinvolved in illegal drug sales, including individuals employed by the County ofMariposa (10) Violation of Property Rights (11) Conspiracyto impede and obstruct criminal investigations (12) Homicide (13) Attemptedhomicide (14) Rape (15) Battery (16) Perjury.
"Why Mr. President, are we bound to the laws of this country, and ourofficials are not? Life in Mariposa is as if the citizens werebeing held in detention, and the local agencies, the criminals, were running thecounty.
"Needless to say, residents feel it is a way of life to literally armthemselves and their homes against their government! I have been in thesepeople's homes, and have witnessed the arsenal of weapons they feel they mustpossess to protect themselves and their families.
"My husband must travel in, around and out of this county [Mariposa]with an armed escort. He is transported during `the midnight hours' tointerview Plaintiffs and witnesses.
"I ask you, Mr. President, what country are we living in? We shouldcertainly make sure that our backyard is clean before we boast to the Sovietsregarding the Civil Rights of Americans.
"On January 19, 1988, my husband took two witnesses, Kay Ritter, a formerMariposa Grand Jury Forewoman and Robert Ashmore, an exdeputy, toMr. [George] Vinson, the Regional Director of the FBI in Fresno. The testimony,both oral and documentary, took approximately 3 hours to present. To this date,the FBI has failed to redress the grievances of these complaintants, and Mr.Vinson did not even have the courtesy to return my husband's phone calls. Itcame to our understanding, through a reliable source, that Mr. Vinson felt thecomplaints had `no substance.'
"Mr. President, my husband has been a trial attorney for 14 years. Hecertainly wouldn't waste his time or expertise, or the time of these witnesses,if he felt there was `no substance' to the contents of their testimony.However,this attitude by Attorney General Van De Camp, his office, and Federal agenciesis typical and consistent.
"Shortly after this incident, a major drug dealer contacted our officewith valuable information detailing the sale of illegal drugs to countyofficials, and wanted information regarding the Federal Witness Program. Mr. Vinson, knowing this by telephone messages, again failed to return myhusband's inquiries.
"There is evidence by another credible witness, who was informed by theFBI, that should they get involved now, it would be `bad publicity,' and `theyhave let the problems in Mariposa get too far out of hand.'
"You may wonder why my husband and I became dedicated to the citizens ofthis county. We certainly don't foresee large amounts of money at the end ofthis case. Our investment in time and expenditures exceeds $40,000 to date.Whatwe do see are people, just like you and I, who have been suppressed by their own`elected ' officials, with no help or assistance from Attorney General Van DeKamp, his office, or Federal agencies. If someone doesn't help them, they willcontinue to live under these conditions, which I could never imagine would existin America.
"My husband is not a righteous individual, nor is he perfect. None of usare you know. He also doesn't believe that he can solve the problems of theworld. However, being an attorney, he is an officer of the Court, and he feelsa professional obligation to uphold the laws of the State, and to maintain thefreedom of the citizens of this country.
"This is, however, more than I can say about a number of `representatives'and officials, who have failed to perform their appointed duties of theiroffice, and are paid by the taxpayers.Through my involvement in this case, Ihave found, to my repulsion, that my lifelong conception of our government'srepresentation of the `people,' its vested authority and ability to uphold CivilRights, and its duty to maintain the laws and the Constitution, has been only anshattering illusion.
"Our system has failed, Mr. President. And by its failure, has crushed anddestroyed the lives of many innocent, lawabiding people. Why? There is ananswer. And we will utilize every legal avenue to find it. We will not bediscouraged, or give up in our effort to restore the Constitution of the UnitedStates in Mariposa County, and other foothill communities. Wewill continue until the answer is found. Even if it means presenting theproblem to you, Mr. President, on the steps of the White House.
"Our best regards to Mrs. Reagan. Respectfully yours, Vivian L. Wagner."
Shortly before Ben Wagner's first scheduled appearance in U.S. District Court inFresno on behalf of D.I.G. (Decency in Government), Wagner received an obscureresponse from "Chuck" at the Reagan White House. Wagnerexcitedly called Kay Ritter and Dave Beavers, myself and a fewothers to note that a meeting with "Chuck" was scheduled that week. It was to be a somewhat secret meeting as requested by the White House.
However, the day after meeting with "Chuck," Wagner unplugged hisphone and walked out on his law practice and his home in Jackson, California,taking nothing with him except his clothes and his wife, never to be seen again.I was later told that Jerry Goldberg of Capitol News Service did the same, onthe same day, and I was never able to locate either of them again.
The last remnants of the D.I.G. group were beginning to call themselves "TheLoser's Club," resembling forlorn characters out of a Stephen King novel. They had squared off against a labyrnthine evil so incomprehensible, they didn'tknow what they were fighting. It was time to bring in some outside help.
During a strategy meeting in Jackson, California, Ben Wagner had received animpressive 700 page report commissioned by the Tulare City Council. The report,compiled by Ted Gunderson, a former Los Angeles FBI agent, was indepth andstraightforward about deputies receiving payoffs and distributing drugs in thesmall farmtown of Tulare. Wagner had given me a copy for my files.
On an impulse, I picked up the phone and called Gunderson's telephone numberlisted at the top of the attached resume. The resume was impressive. He'dworked as SAC (Senior Special Agent in Charge) at Los Angeles FBI headquarters,Washington D.C. headquarters and in Dallas, Texas. It would be two years beforeI would grasp the significance of the Dallas connection. After retiring fromthe FBI, he'd worked for F. Lee Baily, Esq., then formed his own investigativeagency in Los Angeles county.
I left a message with the answering service and he returned the call a few dayslater. His voice was open, attentive, devoid of the bureaucratic hollowness Ihad come to expect from FBI agents. We talked briefly, mostly about the problemDIG was experiencing in Mariposa. I said I needed help,anticipating his next question. But none came forth. Instead, a clippedknowingness entered his tone, as if nothing more should be said on the phone. He agreed to meet with me at his home a few weeks later and we hung up.
Unknown to me at the time, I had taken a quantum leap in the direction of theOctopus when I contacted Ted Gunderson. The mystery of the Mariposacoverups would soon be divulged through an associate of his, a former member of"The Company" in nearby Fresno, California.
On November 30, 1991, Ted Gunderson opened the door at his Manhattan Beach homeand ushered us into a small living room cluttered with toys. He made noexplanation for the toys scattered around the floor and the couch, but offeredcoffee and donuts, then proceeded to eat most of the donuts himself. I hadexpected someone dripping with intrigue, instead he was classic in the sense ofan investigator; rumpled shirt and slacks, nervous movements, distractedbehavior. We sat on the couch bunched together amongst the toys. Gundersonpulled a kitchen chair up in front of us, leaned over and began stuffing hismouth with cheese and crackers, all the while talking, his body in perpetualmotion. He was a big, handsome man with an aging face and tossled silver hair. He seemed entirely unaware of his appearance or the appearnce of his home, buthis pale eyes were intelligent and probing. Intuitively, I knew he was morethan he appeared to be.
A young woman, perhaps early thirties, entered the room brushing long blondhair, still wet from the shower. Her faded jeans and sundrenched appearancereminded me of friends I'd known growing up in Newport Beach. Gundersonintroduced her as his "partner," as she seated herself silently on thefloor next to him. The flush on her face brought a fleeting prescience to methat they had been making love shortly before the meeting.
Ray Jenkins recounted the Mariposa story forseveral hours, with the rest of us digressing to insert a fact here or there. The investigation had led beyond Mariposa into MCA Corporation, and variousState and Federal levels of government. I noted that Danny Casolaro'sresearch had started at the eastern end, in Washington D.C., yet he had beenpreparing to travel to California for the rest of the story,before his death three months earlier.
Gunderson listened carefully, occasionally interrupting to ask questions, thenmotioned us to follow him to the backyard. There we stood in a circle in themiddle of his yard while he surveyed the area. Satisfied that he was not beingwatched, he agreed to come to Mariposa, with media, and perform acitizens arrest on the corrupt officials. He pulled a frazzled piece of paperfrom his pocket and gave me a list of telephone numbers to write down. Theywere numbers to telephone booths at various locations in the vicinity of hishome. Each booth had been coded 1,2,3,4, or 5. He instructed that the nexttime I called him, he would give me the code number of the booth and a time tocall. I would then call him at the designated booth.
Eight hours later, I handed him a copy of my first book, as a courtesy, thenleft Manhattan Beach loaded with newspaper clippings and documents, mostlyrelating to Casolaro's investigation of the Octopus. One packetwas titled, "The Wonderful Weapons of Wackenhut," others related tothe Inslaw affair, Iran/Contra and various savings and loan scandals.
In the van, reviewing the documents, I wondered what relationship they had toMariposa County and why I was given the packet. The documentswere far ranging, beyond anything I had heretofore imagined. But within days ofmy visit to Gunderson, I would be introduced to the Octopus.
The following morning, at 7:30 a.m., I received a collect call from a man whoidentified himself as Michael Riconosciuto (pronouncedRiconoshooto). Riconosciuto, calling from the Pierce County jail in Tacoma,Washington, said he had been informed by Gunderson that I was investigating acorruption/drug ring in Mariposa County. For 45 minutesRiconosciuto related the names of those in charge of methamphetamine operationsin Mariposa, Madera and Fresno counties.
A ton of methamphetamine had been seized in the area of my investigations,according to Riconosciuto. Richard Knozzi was a highlevel "cooker" and Jim DeSilva, Ben Kalka, and others were mediumlevel distributors or lieutenants. Kalka was currently serving time in aPleasanton prison; 900 pounds of methamphetamine had been seized under hiscontrol.
"Who's behind this ring?" I asked. Riconosciutopaused for a moment, then took a deep breath. "It's The Company. Armsget shipped to the Contras, the Afghanistan rebels [Mujahaden], the Middle East. You know, to fight the Soviet influence. But the Contras and theMujahaden don't have money to pay for arms, so they pay with drugs, cocaine orheroin. The Company handles the drug end of it in the U.S ..."
"What's The Company ...?," I asked. Riconosciutointerrupted, "Wait a minute. It's a long story. You have to start at thebeginning." Concerned that Riconosciuto might have to hang up, Ihurriedly pushed for answers. "Arms for drugs, do you have proof?"
"Oh, yeah. It's a selfsupporting system, they don't have to go throughCongress ..."
"Michael," I pressed, "who ships the arms?" Riconosciutoquieted for a moment, gathering his thoughts. "Let's start with Wackenhut. I didn't play ball with Wackenhut so they poisoned the well for me. I'm injail because I worked for Wackenhut. The government has put together a verysimple drug case against me ... as if that's what I'm about, just a druggie."
"Tell me about Wackenhut."
"It's a security corporation headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida. Wackenhut provides security for the Nevada nuclear test site, the Alaskanpipeline, Lawrence Livermore Labs, you know, all the high security governmentfacilities in the U.S. They have about fifty thousand armed security guardsthat work for minimum wage or slightly above.
"On the other hand, on the Wackenhut board of directors, they have all theformer heads of every government agency there ever was under Ronald Reagan andGeorge Bush; FBI, CIA, NSA, Secret Service, etc.
"You know, they've got retired Admiral Stansfield Turner, a former CIAdirector; Clarence Kelley, former FBI director; Frank Carlucci, former CIAdeputy director; James Rowley, former Secret Service director; Admiral BobbyRay Inman, former acting chairman of President Bush's foreign intelligenceadvisory board and former CIA deputy director. Before his appointment asReagan's CIA director, the late William Casey was Wackenhut's outside legalcounsel ..."
I interrupted him, wanting to know where HE fit into the picture?
"Well, I served as Director of Research for the Wackenhut facility at theCabazon Indian reservation in Indio, California. In 198384 I modified thePROMISE computer software to be used in law enforcement and intelligenceagencies worldwide. A man named Earl Brian was spearheading a plan forworldwide use of the software, but essentially, the modified software was beingpirated from the owners, Bill and Nancy Hamilton."
I asked, "So how did that cause your arrest?" Michael was articulate,but his story was becoming complicated. He continued. "I signed anaffidavit for the Hamiltons stating that I had been responsible for themodification. The House Judiciary Committee on Inslaw was investigating thetheft of the software and I was afraid I would be implicated since I hadperformed the modification. Nine days later, in an attempt to discredit mytestimony, I was arrested for allegedly operating a drug lab."
I didn't want to push Riconosciuto on the subject of a druglab at that point, but voiced my foremost concern. "Will the HouseJudiciary Committee be bringing you in to testify?"
"Are you in any danger where you are right now?" I was unaware at thetime that Riconosciuto had been recruited at StanfordUniversity into the CIA nearly twenty years earlier, and danger was amatter of fact in his life.
"Oh, you bet! Several of the jail guards here moonlight for Wackenhut herein Tacoma." Riconosciuto went on to discuss theWackenhut setup. "Basically, what you have is a group of politically wellconnected people through Wackenhut who wanted to get juicy defense contractswhen Ronald Reagan got elected president. And they did! They also preyed onhigh tech start up companies, many of them out of Silicon Valley in California.
"They saw technology that they wanted and they either forced the companiesinto bankruptcy or waited on the sidelines, like vultures, and picked them upfor pennies after they were bankrupt."
I made profuse notes as Riconosciuto spoke, not knowing wherehe was leading, but assuming his narrative would eventually intersect with myinvestigation of government sanctioneddrug operations. Finally it did. According to Riconosciuto,Wackenhut Corporation "made inroads" into the methamphetamineoperation. A man named Richard Knozzi allegedly headed major governmentsanctioned meth laboratories in Fresno, Madera and Mariposacounties. A man named Al Holbert, a former Israeli intelligenceofficer with U.S. citizenship, was the liaison or connection between theKnozzi operation and the U.S. government.
In subsequent documents obtained from Michael's secret hiding place in theCalifornia desert, I located documents which indicated Michael had first beenrecruited into the CIA by Al Holbert. However, during this first ofmany phone conversations with Riconosciuto, I found myselfsearching for a beginning, something concrete to get a foothold. "Michael,is there any proof that you worked at Wackenhut?"
Michael responded diffidently. "CNN recently ran a piece, and they filmeda location shot from the parking lot of the casino. Then they aired anotherlocation shot on the [Cabazon] reservation of just an expanse of bare land, bluesky, sand and sagebrush. Then the narrator says, `Here on the Indian reservationis where Michael Riconosciuto claims to have modified thePROMISE software.' They didn't show the tribal office complex, they didn't showthe industrial park. They showed a bare expanse of land, like I had a computerout in a teepee in the middle of the desert! The government is doing a characterassassination on me. I'm fair game now that I'm in jail, because I've raisedtoo many provocative questions, you know, and they're trying to relegate me tothe area of delusion ..."
For three months Riconosciuto called daily from the PierceCounty jail in Tacoma, Washington. At his request, I attached a tape recorder tomy phone and unraveled a complicated web of illegal overseas arms shipments,espionage, CIA drug trafficking, biological warfare development,computer software theft, money laundering and corruption at the highest levelsof government.
Throughout this time span, I also obtained every newspaper and magazine articleI could lay my hands on relative to Riconosciuto's backgroundand contacts. Riconosciuto had been communicating regularly with journalistDanny Casolaro prior to his death on August 10, 1991 when Danny'snude body was found in the bathtub of room 517 of the Sheraton Hotel inMartinsburg, West Virginia. His wrists had been slashed ten or twelve times. No papers were found in his hotel room or in his car, though he was known tocart a briefcase and files everywhere he went. An XActo blade found in thebathtub was not sold locally and his briefcase is still missing to thisday.Casolaro was working on a book entitled, "Behold a Pale Horse,"which encompassed the October Surprise story, the Inslaw computer software case,the Iran/Contra affair, the B.C.C.I. scandal, and M.C.A. entertainmentcorporation, all overlapping and interconnecting into one network which hedubbed, "The Octopus."
He told friends that he "had traced the Inslaw and related stories back toa dirty CIA `Old Boy' network" that hadbegun working together in the 1950's around the Albania covert operations. Thesemen had gotten into the illegal gun and drug trade back then and hadcontinued in that business ever since.
Before his death, Danny had made plans to visit the Wackenhut Corporation inIndio, California, and even considered naming his book, "Indio."
The history of Wackenhut Corporation is best described from its own literature. An outdated letter of introduction typed on Wackenhut letterhead once sent toprospective clients provided me with the following profile: (Excerpted) "WackenhutCorporation had its beginnings in 1954, when George R. Wackenhut and three otherformer Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation formed a company inMiami, Special Agent Investigators, to provide investigative services tobusiness and industry.
"The approach was so well received that a second company was formed in 1955to apply the same philosophy to physical security problems. In 1958 thecompanies were combined under the name of Wackenhut Corporation, a Floridacompany. From the outset, George Wackenhut was President and chief executiveofficer of the enterprise. Wackenhut established its headquarters in CoralGables, Florida in 1960, extending its physical security operations to theUnited States government through formation of a whollyowned subsidiary,Wackenhut Services, Incorporated. This was done in order to comply with federalstatute prohibiting the government from contracting with companies which furnishinvestigative or detective services.
"In 1962, Wackenhut operations extended from Florida to California andHawaii. On January 1, 1966, the company became international with offices inCaracas, Venezuela, through half ownership of an affiliate.
"The Wackenhut Corporation became public in 1966 with overthecounter stocksales and joined the American Stock Exchange in 1967. Through acquisitions ofsubsidiaries and affiliates, now totaling more than 20, and expansion of itcontracts into numerous territories and foreign countries, the WackenhutCorporation has grown into one of the world's largest security and investigativefirms.
"In 1978 acquisition of NUSAC, a Virginia company providing technical andconsulting services to the nuclear industry, brought Wackenhut into the fieldsof environment and energy management. In 1979, Wackenhut acquired StellarSystems, Inc., a California company specializing in outdoor electronic security.
"The executive makeup of the company reflects the stress Mr. Wackenhutplaced on professional leadership. The Wackenhut Corporation is guided byexecutives and managers with extensive backgrounds in the FBI and othermilitary, governmental and private security and investigative fields.
"The principle business of the company is furnishing security and completeinvestigative services and systems to business, industry and professionalclients, and to various agencies of the U.S. Government.
"Through a whollyowned subsidiary, Wackenhut Electronic SystemsCorporation, the company develops and produces sophisticated computerizedsecurity systems to complement its guard services.
"Major clients of Wackenhut's investigative services are the insuranceindustry and financial interests. These services include insurance inspections,corporate acquisition surveys, personnel background reports, preemploymentscreening, polygraph examinations and general criminal, fraud and arsoninvestigations.
"The wide variety of services offered by Wackenhut Corporation alsoincludes guard and electronic security for banks, office buildings, apartments,industrial complexes and other physical structures; training programs in Englishand foreign languages to apply Wackenhut procedures to individual clients needs;fire, safety and protective patrols; rescue and first aid services; emergencysupport programs tailored to labormanagement disputes, and predeparturescreening programs widely used by airports and airlines.
"The company now has some 20,000 employees and maintains close to 100offices and facilities with operations spread across the United States andextending into Canada, the United Kingdom, Western Europe, the Middle East,Indonesia, Central and South America and the Caribbean."
On the surface, Wackenhut Corporation seemed innocous enough, but throughdocuments later obtained from Michael Riconosciuto, I learnedthere was another, darker side to Wackenhut operations, at the Cabazon Indianreservation near Indio, California.
Because Indian reservations are sovereign nations and do not come under federaljurisdiction, Wackenhut International had formed a partnership and entered intoa business venture with the Cabazon Indians to produce hightech arms andexplosives for export to thirdworld countries. This maneuver was designed toevade congressional prohibitions against U.S. weapons being shipped to theContras and middle eastern countries.
In the early 1980's, Dr. John Nichols, the Cabazon tribal administrator,obtained a department of Defense secret facility clearance for the reservationto conduct various research projects. Nichols then approached Wackenhut with anelaborate "joint venture" proposal to manufacture 120mm combustible cartridge cases, 9mm machine pistols, lasersighted assault weapons, sniperrifles and portable rocket systems on the Cabazon reservation and in LatinAmerica. At one point, he even sought to develop biological weapons.
Again, through Michael Riconosciuto's files, I later obtainedinteroffice memorandums and correspondence relating to biological technology,but more on that in chapter 10. Meanwhile, in 1980, Dr. John Nichols obtainedthe blueprints to Crown Prince Fahd's palace in Tiaf, Saudi Arabia, and drafteda plan to provide security for the palace.
The Saudis were interested enough to conduct a background check on the Cabazons. Mohammad Jameel Hashem, consul of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia inWashington, D.C., wrote former South Dakota Senator James Abourezk at hisoffices in Washington D.C. and noted, "According to our black list forcompanies, the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians/Cabazon Trading Company andWackenhut International are not included." Translated, that meant thatneither the Cabazons or Wackenhut were Jewishrun enterprises.
George Wackenhut's political leanings were once described in a book entitled, "TheAge of Surveillance, The Aims and Methods of America's Political IntelligenceSystem," by Frank J. Donner (Knopf, 1980), pp. 424425 as such: "Theagency's [Wackenhut] professional concerns reflect the political values of itsdirector, George Wackenhut. A rightist of the old blood, he selected as hisdirectors an assortment of ultras prominent in the John Birch Society,the ASC, and other rightwing groups. The agency's monthly house organ, the`Wackenhut Security Review,' systematically decried the subversive inspirationin virtually all the protest movements of the sixties, from civil rights topeace. This vigilance earned the publication the accolade of rightwingorganizations, inluding (in 1962) the George Washington Honor Medal and theFreedom Foundation Award at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; and (in 1965 and 1966)the Vigilant Patriots Award from the AllAmerican Conference to Combat Communism."
Of all the articles written about Wackenhut Corporation, probably the mostprovacative was written by John Connolly for SPY magazine, published inSeptember 1992, pp. 4654. Connolly, a former New York police officer turnedwriter, began his story with the following introduction: "What? A bigprivate company one with a board of former CIA, FBI and Pentagonofficials; one in charge of protecting nuclearweapons facilities, nuclearreactors, the Alaskan oil pipeline and more than a dozen American embassiesabroad; one with longstanding ties to a radical rightwing organization; one with30,000 men and women under arms secretly helped Iraq in its effort toobtain sophisticated weapons? And fueled unrest in Venezuela? This is allthe plot of a new bestselling thriller, right? Or the ravings of someoverheated conspiracy buff, right? Right? WRONG."
Connolly highlighted George Wackenhut as a "hardline rightwinger" whowas able to profit from his beliefs by building dossiers on Americans suspectedof being Communists or leftleaning "subversives and sympathizers" andselling the information to interested parties. By 1965 , Wackenhut was boastingto potential investors that the company maintained files on 2.5 millionsuspected dissidents one in 46 American adults then living.
In 1966, after acquiring the private files of Karl Barslaag, a former staffmember of the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities, Wackenhut couldconfidently maintain that with more than 4 million names, it had the largestprivately held file on suspected dissidents in America.
Connolly wrote that it was not possible to overstate the special relationshipthat Wackenhut enjoys with the federal government. Richard Babayan,claiming to be a CIA contract employee, told SPY that "Wackenhuthas been used by the CIA and other intelligence agencies for years. When they[the CIA] need cover, Wackenhut is there to provide it for them."
Another CIA agent, Bruce Berckmans, who was assigned to the CIAstation in Mexico City, but left the agency in January 1975 (putatively) tobecome a Wackenhut internationaloperations vice president, told SPY that hehad seen a formal proposal submitted by George Wackenhut to the CIA offeringWackenhut offices throughout the world as fronts for CIA activities. In 1981, Berckmans joined with other senior Wackenhut executives to form thecompany's Special Projects Division. It was this division that linked upwith exCIA man Dr. John Phillip Nichols, the Cabazon tribal administrator, inpursuit of a scheme to manufacture explosives, poison gas and biological weaponsfor export to the contras and other communist fighting rebels worldwide.
SPY also printed testimony from William Corbett, a terrorism expert who spent 18years as a CIA analyst and is now an ABC News consultant in Europe. Said Corbett, "For years Wackenhut has been involved with the CIA andother intelligence organizations, including the DEA. Wackenhut would allow theCIA to occupy positions within the company [in order to carry out] clandestineoperations."Additionally, Corbett said that Wackenhut supplied intelligenceagencies with information, and it was compensated for this "in a quid proquo arrangement" with government contracts worth billions ofdollars over the years.
On page 51, in a box entitled, "Current and Former Wackenhut Directors,"SPY published the following names: "John Ammarell, former FBI agent;Robert Chasen, former FBI agent; Clarence Kelly, former FBI director; WillisHawkins, former assistant secretary of the Army; Paul X. Kelley, fourstargeneral (ret.), U.S. Marine Corps; Seth McKee, former commander in chief, NorthAmerican Air Defense Command; Bernard Schriever, former member, President'sForeign Intelligence Advisory Board; Frank Carlucci, former Defense Secretaryand former deputy CIA director; Joseph Carroll, formerdirector, Defense Intelligence Agency; James Rawley, former director, U.S.Secret Service; Bobby Ray Inman, former deputy CIA director."
Danny Casolaro's body was found at 12:30 p.m. in a bloodfilledbath tub by a hotel maid who called the Martinsburg police. The body containedthree deep cuts on the right wrist and seven on the left wrist, made by a singleedge razor blade, the kind used to scrape windows or open packages.At the bottomof the bathwater was an empty Milwaukee beer can, a paper glass coaster, therazor blade and two white plastic trash bags, the kind used in wastepaperbaskets.On the desk in the hotel room was an empty mead composition notebookwith one page torn out and a suicide note which read: "To those who I lovethe most, please forgive me for the worst possible thing I could have done. Most of all, I'm sorry to my son. I know deep down inside that God will let mein."
There were no other papers, folders, documents of any sort, nor any briefcasefound in the room. Danny's wallet was intact, stuffed with credit cards.Thebody was removed from the tub by Lieutenant Dave Brining from the Martinsburgfire department, and his wife, Sandra, a nurse who works in the hospitalemergency room. The couple, who often moonlighted as coroners, took the body tothe Brown Funeral Home where they conducted an examination.Charles Brown thendecided to embalm the body that night and go home, rather than come back to workthe next day, Sunday.
No one in Danny Casolaro's family had been notified of his deathat that time, nor had they requested the body be embalmed.When Casolaro's familylearned of the death, they insisted it was not a suicide and called for anautopsy and an investigation. Though the body had already been embalmed, anautopsy was performed at the West Virginia University Hospital by a Dr. Frost. The findings indicated that no struggle had taken place because there were norecent bruises on the body. The drugs found in Casolaro's urine, blood andtissue samples were in minute amounts but they were also unexplainable by hisbrother, Tony, who is a medical doctor.
According to Tony Casolaro, Danny did not take drugs or have anyprescriptions for the drug traces of Hydrocodone and Tricyclic antidepressantthat were found in the body. No pill boxes or written prescriptions were found. Dr. Casolaro searched through his brother's Blue Cross records and found norecord of the prescriptions or doctor visits.
During the autopsy of the body, Dr. Frost had found lesions within the brainwhich were characteristic of Multiple Sclerosis. It was possible that Danny washaving blurring of vision, but Dr. Frost downplayed the possibility that thiscontributed to any suicide. Of particular interest, was Frost's observationthat the deep razor wounds on Danny's wrists were inflicted "without anyhesitation marks." However, the lack of hesitation did not indicate oneway or the other whether they were or were not selfinflicted.Investigators andpolice never found Danny's missing briefcase.
On August 6, 1991, Casolaro's housekeeper, Olga, helped Dannypack a black leather tote bag. She remembered he also packed a thick sheaf ofpapers into a dark brown or black briefcase. She asked him what he had put intothe briefcase and he replied, "I have all my papers ..." He had beentyping for two days, and as he left the house, he said, "Wish me luck. I'll see you in a couple of days."
By August 9th, Casolaro's friends were alarmed. Noone had heardfrom him and Olga was receiving threatening phone calls at Danny's home. OnSaturday, August 10th, Olga received another call, a man's voice said, "Youson of a bitch. You're dead."After learning of Danny's death, Olgarecalled seeing Danny sitting in the kitchen on August 5th with a "heavyman ... wearing a dark suit. He was a dark man with black hair he turnedtowards the door, I saw he was darkskinned. I told police maybe he could befrom India."
At 3:00 p.m. on Friday, the day before Danny's death, Bill Turner, a friend andconfidante, met Danny in the parking lot of the Sheraton Hotel to deliver somepapers to him. The papers allegedly consisted of two sealed packages whichTurner had been keeping in his safe at home for Danny, and a packet of HughesAircraft papers which belonged to Turner.
Danny had appeard exhuberant to most of his friends before his death, notingthat he was about to "wrap up" his investigation of The Octopus. Casolaro was trying to prove that the alleged theft of the Inslawcomputer program, PROMISE, was related to the October Surprise scandal, theIranContra affair and the collapse of BCCI (Bank of Credit and CommerceInternational).
Turner later admitted to police that he had indeed met with Danny on August 9th,but at that time he refused to specify what time and would not describe what wasin the papers he delivered to Danny. I later learned that Turner had beeninvestigating discrepancies involving his former employer, Hughes AircraftCompany. The documents he had delivered from his safe to Danny had been sealed,with Casolaro's name written across the seal, and he claimed notto have known what they contained.Nevertheless, it is feasible to assume thatTurner may have known who Danny was preparing to meet that evening at theMartinsburg Hotel because, for reasons of his own, Turner apparently wantedDanny to show the Hughes Aircraft documents to whoever he was meeting with.
Turner later noted to reporters that he was "scared shitless" aboutinformation he had seen connecting Ollie North and BCCI. "I saw papersfrom Danny that connected back through the Keating Five and Silverado [thefailed Denver S & L where Neil Bush had been an officer]," he said.
To his friend, Ben Mason, Danny showed a 22point outline for his book. Includedin the information he shared with Mason were papers referring to IranContra armsdeals. Photocopies of checks made out for $1 million and $4 million drawn onBCCI accounts held for Adnan Khashoggi, and international arms merchant andfactotum for the House of Saud, and by Manucher Ghorbanifar, an arms dealer andIranContra middleman, were presented.
"The last sheet," noted Mason, "was a passport of some guy namedIbrahim." Casolaro had emphasized that Ibrahim had made abig deal of showing him (Casolaro) his "Egyptian" passport."Ibrahim"was obviously the informant whom Olga, Casolaro's housekeeper, had seen sittingin the kitchen with Danny on August 5th. Hassan Ali Ibrahim Ali, born in1928, was later identified as the manager of Sitico, an alleged Iraqi frontcompany for arms purchases. Casolaro had obtained these papers from Bob Bickel,who in turn obtained them from October Surprise source Richard Brenneke.
Ari BenMenasche, a self proclaimed Israeli military intelligence officer, wasresponsible for the tipoff to an obscure Lebanese magazine about what laterbecame known as the IranContra scandal. After Casolaro'sdeath, Menasche called Bill Hamilton, the president of Inslaw Company andcreator of the PROMISE software. (Hamilton had been in daily contact withCasolaro until about a week prior to his death).
Menasche claimed that two FBI agents from Lexington, Kentucky, had embarkedon a trip to Martinsburg to meet Casolaro as part oftheir investigation of the sale of the PROMISE software to Israel and otherintelligence agencies.Ben Menasche told Hamilton that one of the FBI agents,E.B. Cartinhour, was disaffected because his superiors had refused to indicthigh Reagan officials for their role in the October Surprise. Ben Menascheclaimed the agents were prepared to give Casolaro proof that the FBI wasillegally using PROMISE software.
It is highly unlikely that the two FBI agents were enroute to Martinsburg toGIVE anything to Casolaro, but they may well have been on theirway to obtain HIS documents and those belonging to Bill Turner. If, in fact,Danny had disclosed to any one of the many "sources" he had developedduring his investigation, that he was turning over his documents to theLexington FBI, that may well have alarmed a few of them.
Casolaro was also investigating Colonel Bo Gritz's expose of CIAdrug trafficking, and had requested to meet with a former police officer who hadinformation on Laotian warlord Kuhn Sa's Golden Triangle drug trade proposal tothe U.S. He had learned through a Sacramento Bee newspaper article, dated June2, 1990 that Patrick Moriarty, the Red Devil fireworks magnate convictedof laundering political contributions and bribing city officials in Sacramento,had been subpoenaed to testify on behalf of Gritz at his trial in Las Vegaswhere he was tried for using a false passport. Gritz was acquitted of thecharges.
Moriarty's lawyer, Jan Lawrence Handzlik, told the Bee that Moriarty hadpaid Gritz to make business trips to China, Singapore and other parts of Asia. Gritz said his business trip to Asia in July 1989 was for the purpose ofnegotiating an oil interest that he and Moriarty had set up between the People'sRepublic of China and Indonesia.
It is noteworthy that Patrick Moriarty is the longtime (30 years) partnerof Marshall Riconosciuto, Michael Riconosciuto'sfather. They owned several California businesses together, two of whichwere Hercules Research Corporation, of which Michael was a partner, andPyrotronics Corporation.
Casolaro at one time considered the title of "Indio"for the book he was writing about "The Octopus." His death occurredjust days before he planned to visit the Cabazon Indian reservation near Indio,California. Though his notes did not divulge what role the Cabazons may havehad in the conspiracy,Casolaro listed Dr. John Phillip Nichols, the Cabazon administrator, as aformer CIA agent.
A source of information which Danny may have read is entitled, "DARKVICTORY, Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob," by Dan E. Moldea. Moldea namedthis unholy alliance "The Octopus" in his book.
Numerous publications reporting on Casolaro's death corroboratedthat one of his sources included Michael Riconosciuto, a "44yearoldformer hightech scientist who had connections with Wackenhut Corporation ..." What brought Casolaro to Riconosciuto was an affidavit signed by Riconosciutoclaiming that when he worked on the WackenhutCabazon project, he was given acopy of the Inslaw software by Earl Brian for modification. Riconosciuto alsoswore that Peter Videnieks, a Justice Department official associated with theInslaw contract, had visited the WackenhutCabazon project with Earl Brian.
Earl Brian was a businessman and Edwin Meese crony who served in Governor RonaldReagan's cabinet in California.The $6 million in software stolen from Williamand Nancy Hamilton, coowners of Inslaw Company, was allegedly sold by theJustice Department through Earl Brian to raise offthebooks money for covertgovernment operations.
On May 18, 1990, Riconosciuto had called the Hamiltons andinformed them that the Inslaw case was connected to the October Surprise affair. Riconosciuto claimed that he and Earl Brian had traveled to Iran in 1980 andpaid $40 million to Iranian officials to persuade them NOT to release thehostages before the presidential election in which Reagan became president ofthe United States.
Riconosciuto's information created a domino effect inWashington D.C., opening numerous investigations and causing a media blitz. Atthat time, Casolaro headed the Hamilton's private investigationof the theft of their software and he had regular communication withRiconosciuto.
Former U.S. Attorney General Elliott Richardson, the Hamilton's attorney,subsequently sent Riconosciuto an affidavit to sign, to befiled by Inslaw in federal court in connection with Inslaw's pending Motion forLimited Discovery. The affidavit, Case No. 8500070, entered into court records,resulted in Riconosciuto's arrest within days. It read as follows:
"I Michael J. Riconosciuto, being duly sworn, do herebystate as follows:
"(1) During the early 1980's, I served as the Director of Research for ajoint venture between the Wackenhut Corporation of Coral Gables, Florida, andthe Cabazon Band of Indians of Indio, California. The joint venture was locatedon the Cabazon reservation.
"(2) The WackenhutCabazon joint venture sought to develop and/ormanufacture certain materials that are used in military and national securityoperations, including night vision goggles, machine guns, fuelairexplosives, and biological and chemical warfare weapons.
"(3) The Cabazon Band of Indians are a sovereign nation. The sovereignimmunity that is accorded the Cabazons as a consequence of this fact made itfeasible to pursue on the reservation the development and/or manufacture ofmaterials whose development or manufacture would be subject to stringentcontrols off the reservation. As a minority group, the Cabazon Indians alsoprovided the Wackenhut Corporation with an enhanced ability to obtain federalcontracts through the 8A Set Aside Program, and in connection withGovernmentowned contractoroperated (GOCO) facilities.
"(4) The WackenhutCabazon joint venture was intended to support the needsof a number of foreign governments and forces, including forces and governmentsin Central America and the Middle East. The Contras in Nicaragua representedone of the most important priorities for the joint venture.
"(5) The WackenhutCabazon joint venture maintained close liaison withcertain elements of the United States Government, including representatives ofintelligence, military and law enforcement agencies.
"(6) Among the frequent visitors to the WackenhutCabazon joint venturewere Peter Videnieks of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., anda close associate of Videnieks by the name of Earl W. Brian. Brian is a privatebusinessman who lives in Maryland and who has maintained close ties with theU.S. intelligence community for many years.
"(7) In connection with my work for Wackenhut, I engaged in some softwaredevelopment and modification work in 1983 and 1984 on the proprietary PROMIScomputer software product. The copy of PROMIS on which I worked came from theU.S. Department of Justice. Earl W. Brian made it available to me throughWackenhut after acquiring it from Peter Videnieks, who was then a Department ofJustice contracting official with responsibility for the PROMISE software. Iperformed the modifications to PROMIS in Indio, California; Silver Spring,Maryland; and Miami, Florida.
"(8) The purpose of the PROMISE software modifications that I made in 1983and 1984 was to support a plan for the implementation of PROMIS in lawenforcement and intelligence agencies worldwide. Earl W. Brian was spearheadingthe plan for this worldwide use of the PROMISE computer software.
"(9) Some of the modifications that I made were specifically designed tofacilitate the implementation of PROMIS within two agencies of the Government ofCanada; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security andIntelligence Service (CSIS). Earl W. Brian would check with me from time totime to make certain that the work would be completed in time to satisfy theschedule for the RCMP and CSIS implementations of PROMIS.
"(10) The proprietary version of PROMIS, as modified by me, was, in fact,implemented in both the RCMP and the CSIS in Canada. It was my understandingthat Earl W. Brian had sold this version of PROMIS to the Government of Canada.
"(11) In February 1991, I had a telephone conversation with PeterVidenieks, then still employed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Videnicksattempted during this telephone conversation to persuade me not to cooperatewith an independent investigation of the government's piracy of Inslaw'sproprietary PROMIS software being conducted by the Committee on the Judiciary ofthe U.S. House of Representatives.
"(12) Videnieks stated that I would be rewarded for a decision not tocooperate with the House Judiciary Committee investigation. Videnieksforecasted an immediate and favorable resolution of a protracted child custodydispute being prosecuted against my wife by her former husband, if I were todecide not to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee investigation.
"(13) Videnieks also outlined specific punishments that I could expect toreceive from the U.S. Department of Justice if I cooperate with the HouseJudiciary Committee's investigation.
"(14) One punishment that Videnieks outlined was the future inclusion ofme and my father in a criminal prosecution of certain business associates ofmine in Orange County, California, in connection with the operation of a savingsand loan institution in Orange County. By way of underscoring his power toinfluence such decisions at the U.S. Department of Justice, Videnieks informedme of the indictment of these business associates prior to the time when thatindictment was unsealed and made public.
"(15) Another punishment that Videnieks threatened against me if Icooperate with the House Judiciary Committee is prosecution by the U.S.Department of Justice for perjury. Videnieks warned me that credible witnesseswould come forward to contradict any damaging claims that I made in testimonybefore the House Judiciary Committee, and that I would subsequently beprosecuted for perjury by the U.S. Department of Justice for my testimony beforethe House Judiciary Committee."
It is noteworthy that in January, 1992 when I obtained boxes of MichaelRiconosciuto's hidden documents, included in those documentswere handwritten pages of telephone numbers belonging to various Washington D.C.dignitaries. One number, "(202) 4260789" was listed as belonging to "PV,"but it was no longer in service.
Danny Casolaro was, of course, intent on interviewing PeterVidenieks. A strange coincidence occurred during the week prior to his death. While sitting in a pub, having a beer, a man named Joseph Cuellar approached himand they began talking. At some point during the conversation, Danny disclosedthe contents of his investigation and expressed a desire to interview PeterVidenieks.
To Danny's astonishment, Cuellar, claiming to be a Special Forces operative,said he could arrange a rendevous between Peter Videnieks and Casolaro.Cuellar's connection to Peter Videnieks allegedly came through Videnieks' wife,Barbara, who was the executive assistant to the powerful West VirginiaDemocratic Senator, Robert Byrd. Byrd played a major role in the effortto have the CIA move some of its administrative offices toCharlestown, 20 miles from Martinsburg, on the Virginia border. It wasapparently through Barbara Videnieks that Cuellar intended to arrange theinterview.
Casolaro confided to friends that he was unnerved by thissupposedly chance meeting. He met with Cuellar at other times that week, but itis unknown whether he ever spoke with Videnieks. To date, that question remainsunanswered.
Significantly, Elliot Richardson, the respected former U.S. Attorney Generalrepresenting Inslaw, called for the appointment of a special counsel to lookinto the death of Casolaro.
At Michael Riconosciuto's trial in Tacoma Washington, PeterVidenieks testified that while working for the Justice Department he had contactwith the PROMISE software. He "conducted the competitive contract competitive procurement for acquisition of the services to implement PROMISE."Undercross examination he testified that "it required preparation of a requestfor proposals issuance of that document to industry ... negotiating, selecting,and awarding the contract. Then after award, administering the contract to seethat the work that the government paid for was properly performed."
So, essentially, Videnieks administered the Inslaw contract with the government. His employment record included work with the Internal Revenue Service as arevenue officer from 1964 to 1967. From 1967 to 1972 as a contract specialistwith NASA. From 1972 to 1973 with Customs as a contract specialist. From 1973 through 1975 back at NASA as a contract specialist. From 1975 through1981 as a contract specialist with Customs, supervisory at this time. From 1981through September, 1990, with the Department of Justice as a contractspecialist. And from September 1990 through present (January 1992) as asupervisory contract specialist at Customs again.
Thomas Olmstead, Riconosciuto's attorney, showed Videnieksthe Inslaw affidavit signed by Riconosciuto. Videnieks said he had seen theaffidavit prior to court, but testified that he'd never heard of theWackenhutCabazon joint venture and never visited the WackenhutCabazon facilityin Indio, California. He also testified that he'd never met Earl Brian.
Olmstead asked Videnieks if he knew Robert Chasen [Executive Vice Presidentof Wackenhut]? Videnieks testified that he knew him "by name since hewas head of Customs for about a threeyear period, from about 1977 through 1980. I met him once in the line of my duties."
Interestingly, according to his resume, Robert Chasen was Commissioner ofCustoms in Washington D.C. from 1969 to 1977, then ExecutiveVice President of Wackenhut from 1981 to present (1991). And Peter Videnieks, a contract officer at Customs in Washington D.C. from1972 to 1974, then again at Customs from 1976 to 1981, said he did not knowRobert Chasen. How could that be? Videnieks had worked in the same departmentwith Chasen, off and on, for at least three years.
Videnieks also testified that he met Chasen in the line of his duties sometimebetween 1977 and 1980. Yet, Chasen no longer worked at Customs between 1977and 1980?
Olmstead asked Videnieks to reiterate his position with the PROMISE software. "Iworked on the [PROMISE] contract. ... The procurement was assigned to me by alady named Patricia Rudd. ... My function was to conduct a competitiveprocurement, negotiate an award of contract, and then administer the contract."
Olmstead: "What time frames are we talking when you were ...?"
Videnieks: "We're talking about from the day that I reported for duty atJustice, which was in September 1981, through about 1985."
Olmstead: "Are you familiar with Hadron Company?" (This was a loadedquestion because Earl Brian, who Videnieks testified he did not know, ownedHadron Company at the time of the court proceedings.)
Videnieks responded, "Yes, I am."
Olmstead: "Have you done work for Hadron Corporation in your procurementcontract?"
Videnieks: "I supervise currently a contract specialist who isadministering a contract with Hadron."
Olmstead: "Prior to supervising someone, did you personally handle thatparticular contract?"
Videnieks: "I have administered well over a hundred contracts, maybe acouple hundred or several hundred over my career, and I don't recall whether Ihave or not."
Olmstead: "And you have never given a deposition in regards to the Inslawmatter?"
Videnieks: "My recall is not that good. Like I said, I have administeredhundreds of contracts, and I may or may not have administered one with Hadron."
Again Olmstead asked Videnieks if he knew Earl Brian?Videnieks responded, "No,sir."
Olmstead: "Do you know who owns Hadron?"
Videnieks: "I really don't. I've heard I mean, I don't want to speculatenow. He may be an officer with Hadron. He may be."
Olmstead: "You don't recall any questions in any depositions at allregarding that?"
Videnieks: "I do recall questions along these same lines. But again, fromgeneral knowledge, I think he is an officer or has been an officer with Hadron."
Olmstead: "In fact, in your deposition, you admitted you knew that he wasan officer of Hadron, didn't you?"
Videnieks: "I would like to see my transcript from my deposition as towhat I said ..."
Olmstead went on to question Videnieks about "Modification No. 12" ofthe PROMISE software. Videnieks stated that he knew what Modification No. 12was, but repeatedly refused to discuss it until someone produced the originalInslaw contract. Finally, under pressure to give a general recollection, hesaid it dealt with the twelfth modification to the PROMISE software.
Olmstead asked, "Were you personally chastised as a result of ModificationNo. 12 in the way you handled that?"
Videnieks: "Please define `chastised.'"
Olmstead: "Were you told that you took, converted, and stole sixmillion dollars worth of Inslaw software through the way you handledModification No. 12?"
Videnieks: "A judge in the bankruptcy court ruled that. Since thenthe record was erased. And that language should not be the way a nonlawyerlike me understands, it is no longer in existence ..."
It is necessary to digress here to disclose the magnitude of the apparentgovernment coverup relative to Riconosciuto's case. Abouttwo weeks before Riconosciuto's trial began, I had received a call from Michaelasking me to contact Brian Leighton, a former assistant U.S. Attorney inFresno, whom Michael claimed to have provided information to. Michael waslining up his ducks. Essentially his defense rested on his ability to provehe worked for the U.S. government in intelligence operations, buthis lawyer was behind schedule in making the contacts.
Brian Leighton had been instrumental in prosecuting 29 members of adrug/arms organization called "The Company." The Company had beenwritten up in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 28, 1982 under theheading "Story of Spies, Stolen Arms and Drugs." According toreporter Bill Wallace, The Company consisted of (quote) "about 300 members,many of them former military men or expolice officers with nearly $30 millionworth of assets, including planes, ships and real estate."
The article went on to say that "federal drug agents said theorganization had imported billions of dollars worth of narcotics from LatinAmerica, and was also involved in gunrunning and mercenary operations." Specialized military equipment consisting of nine infrared sniperscopes, atelevision camera for taking pictures in darkness, 1500 rounds of small armstracer ammunition for night combat, a fivefoot remotecontrol helicopter, andsecret components from the radar unit of a Sidewinder guided missile werestolen from the U.S. Naval Weapons Station at China Lake in the Mojave Desert.
Federal agents said some of the stolen equipment was going to be used tomake electronic equipment for drug smugglers and some was traded to drugsuppliers in Columbia. Twentynine members of the Company were indicted by theFresno federal grand jury in 1981. Amongst those indicated was Andrew "Drew"Thornton, 40, a former narcotics officer.
On September 13, 1985, the Los Angeles Times published the story of Thornton'sdeath, entitled, "Former Narcotics Officer Parachutes Out of Plane, Dieswith 77 Pounds of Cocaine." The article said Thornton was indicted in1981 for "allegedly flying a plane to South America for a reputed drug ringknown as `The Company.'" In an interview with the Los Angeles Times,Brian Leighton said, "I'm glad his parachute didn't open. I hope he got ahell of a high out of that ..."
Thornton's mysterious death was discussed at length in a book written by SallyDenton entitled, "The Blue Grass Conspiracy." Part of TheCompany was headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky. Prosecutors in Lexington,Fresno, California (Brian Leighton), and Miami, Florida were workingtogether in a joint effort to bring down The Company.
The San Francisco Chronicle noted that in January, 1982, Gene Berry, a stateprosecutor in Charlotte Harbor, Florida, was shot in the face as he answered hisdoor. Police subsequently arrested Bonnie Kelly as Berry's murderer. Bonnie's husband, Mike McClure Kelly, was a suspected member of The Company wholater pleaded guilty in the Fresno, California case.
In Michael Riconosciuto's documents, I discovered a letterdated March 24, 1982, written on Cabazon letterhead toMichael McClure at Hercules Corporation from Art Welmas, President of theCabazon Band of Indians. Copies (cc:) were also noted to Marshall Riconosciutoand Michael Riconosciuto. The letter complimented McClure's competence inpresenting a clear and lucid explanation of a power pack under development atHercules. (Hercules was owned by Marshall Riconosciuto, Michael Riconosciutoand Patrick Moriarty, the Red Devil fireworks mogul. More on Moriarty later.)
Throughout Michael's documents, I found references to Michael McClure andBonnie Lynne G. Kelly. Michael's code word for Mike McClure was "Gopher."
Journalist Danny Casolaro had been communicating regularly withMichael Riconosciuto and obviously learned about The Company. It is not to be overlooked that coincidentally or not, Ari BenMenashe (a formerIsraeli intelligence agent who lived in Lexington, Kentucky) told Bill Hamiltonthat two Lexington FBI agents had been enroute to meet with Danny at theMartinsburg Hotel on the day of his death. The Company was headquartered inLexington. Danny was not meeting with the FBI relative to PROMIS, he waspreparing to turn over drug trafficking information on The Company.
BenMenashe further told Hamilton that one of the agents, E.B. Cartinhour, wasangry that the Justice Department was not pursuing Reagan administrationofficials for their role in the October Surprise.
Meanwhile, it was necessary to contact Brian Leighton to corroborateRiconosciuto's story that he had been instrumental in helpingLeighton identify members of The Company.
I did not directly contact Leighton, who had resigned from the U.S.Attorney's office shortly after the prosecutions and entered into privatelaw practice, but asked the Secret Service agent in Los Angeles who had visitedmy home regarding the "Queen's accident" in Mariposa(mentioned in the first chapter of this book) to run a check on Riconosciuto.
Instead, he called Brian Leighton and when I checked back with him, heacknowledged talking to Leighton about Riconosciuto. Leighton confirmed to the Secret Service agent that he recalled a threehourfacetoface meeting with Riconosciuto and remembered him well. He gavespecific details of Riconosciuto's cooperation with the U.S. attorney'soffice. I thanked the Secret Service agent and hung up.
I next contacted a retired police officer and colleague in the Mariposainvestigation, and asked him to put me in touch with someone trustworthy ingovernment who could corraborate Leighton's information. The contact was madeand this individual agreed to call Brian Leighton to see if he could gleanfurther details of Michael's cooperation with the U.S. attorney's office. Forpurposes of anonymity, this source will be identified as "R.J." WhenI checked back, he confirmed that Leighton did indeed remember Michael'shelp with the case and, in fact, said Michael led law enforcement officers to amarijuana cache belonging to members of The Company.
At that point I was satisfied that Michael had been operating within theframework of The Company and had spoken accurately about his cooperation withBrian Leighton. I called Thomas Olmstead, Michael's attorney, and related theabove information.
Two weeks later, on January 15, 1992, at Michael's trial in Tacoma,Washington, Brian Leighton testified that the case in question involved thetheft of military equipment from the China Lake Naval Weapons Center inCalifornia. "The FBI and Naval Intelligence Service began theinvestigation," he said, "and there were several people that weretargets of the investigation. One of those targets began cooperating with usand then it became a DEA and FBI investigation. The thefts occurred in 1979 and1980, and the case continued on for a couple of years."
Leighton testified that he "could not recall ever meeting personallywith Mr. Riconosciuto and he didn't know if he spoketo him personally or spoke to him through a government agent." Under crossexamination, Leighton testified that he thought Riconosciuto wasbrought to him by an agent Barnes from the Oakland or San Francisco office ofthe FBI, but he couldn't remember exactly ..."
After Leighton's testimony, Michael called me and asked, "What happened?" I was astonished at Leighton's testimony. What was at stake here? Michaelspeculated that Leighton was operating out of fear. He said Leighton retiredfrom the U.S. Attorney's office shortly after prosecuting members of TheCompany, and recalled that the prosecuting attorney in Florida had been shot inthe head.
I called the Secret Service officer and R.J. individually and asked them torepeat what Leighton had told them before the trial. They both repeatedverbatim what Leighton had told them the first time about Michael Riconosciuto. I said it appeared Leighton had perjured himself in court. Neither couldunderstand why?
In August 1994, I received from a friend of Bill Hamilton's (President ofInslaw) a Declaration, signed by Hamilton, which stated that " ... On orabout April 3, 1991, I spoke by telephone with Mr. Brian Leighton, an attorneyin private practice in Fresno, California. He stated that during the early1980's, while serving as an Assistant United States Attorney in Fresno,California, he had investigated a nationwide criminal enterprise known as`The Company,' which was engaged in illegal drug trafficking on a massivescale.
"Mr. Leighton told me that (A) Michael Riconosciutohad furnished Mr. Leighton `valuable intelligence' on illegal drug activitiesand The Company; (B) Mr. Leighton had been unable to use the information inprosecution but (C) the failure to use Mr. Riconosciuto's intelligenceinformation was not because of any fault of Mr. Michael Riconosciuto."
Also mentioned in the affidavit was corroboration of Riconosciuto'swork in the defense and national security fields. Section six of theaffidavit noted that during the course of a telephone conversation with RobertNichols on or about April 18, 1991, Hamilton learned that Nichols had attended ameeting that had been organized by a Colonel Bamford, an aide to General Meyer,then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Others participating in the meetingwere department heads from Department of Defense scientific facilities.
Michael Riconosciuto was the principal presenterto this group of seniorlevel national security research and developmentofficials. According to Nichols, Riconosciuto made a day long presentationto this meeting of scientists lasting from approximately 9 a.m. untilapproximately 4 p.m., answering questions from the participants and filling thehalls of the conference facility with his handprinted notes on the scientificand technical issues that arose in the course of his presentation.
I was able to locate in Riconosciuto's files, a letterwritten on July 20, 1983 from Tom Bamford, Vice President of Researchand Development at FMC Corporation in Santa Clara, California to William Frashin Escondido, California. At that time, Frash, a retired USMC Colonel, wasChairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Lilac Corporation.
Essentially, the letter expressed enthusiasm for the potential applicationof technologies being proposed to FMC Corporation by Meridian Arms, andcalled for a list of all active participants in the joint venture. At that timeRiconosciuto was vice president of Meridian Arms. Bamfordadded, " ... You may want to do this only for Mike at this stage."
Frash hastened to respond to Bamford on July 27, 1983 to apprise him of ameeting between himself and Michael Riconosciuto, RobertBooth Nichols, Peter Zokosky and Patrick Moriarty (Michael's father's businesspartner) regarding "energy transfer phenomena." A proposal wasunderway to outline technology in the form of patents applied for jointlybetween Meridian Arms and FMC. Frash noted that the technology would "supercedeall existing world patents in the field."
"Had we patented previously, it would only have announced our `edge' in thefield," he wrote. Three of the four major patents that would beforthcoming were (1) the application of Perturbation Theory to enhanced energytransfer, (2) the application of stationary methods with powders and aerosols toenhanced energy transfer and (3) the application of Perturbation Theory tohydrodynamic flow regimes.
It is noteworthy that the submarine propulsion system depicted in the movie, "Huntfor Red October" utilized this theory. Frash concluded, "Tom, as youwell know, Mike's tried and true value is in the field of high voltage andelectrostatics and their application. The meetings in San Jose highlightedapplication of this technology in over one hundred areas that are inhouse FMC." He added, " ... Per your reference to meetings in Washington, D.C., Iassume the meetings with Dr. Fair, Admiral Renkin and the ACCOM peoplewill suffice in this matter. In closing we are very enthused, Tom, and we lookforward to an expeditious closing. Sincerely, William Frash."
Frash's payment for putting together the above referenced joint venture, ifsuccessful, would be $500,000 for the first fifteen million invested, or$166,666.66 for only five million invested, a onehundredthousanddollar per yearsalary for a period of 20 years, and a 2% share in the gross profits. This,according to a Letter of Understanding sent to and signed by Robert BoothNichols and Michael Riconosciuto in July, 1983.
In questioning Michael Riconosciuto about the FMC agreements,he said he attempted to break away from Robert Nichols in 1984. "The guynearly got me terminated," declared Riconosciuto. "At the time I wasworking with Nichols on a proposal to FMC Corporation, which is Food MachineryCorporation, they produced the Bradley Personnel Carrier. I've got a completepapertrail on the technology that was being presented. We conducted a testdemonstration of an enhanced airfield device which I developed. We alsoconducted a test of a hydrodynamic implosion type of explosive device.
"The implosion device settled the Nevada Test Range by about 30 feet. TheLawrence Livermore Labs and the Gallup Ordinance people built a prototype of thedevice, but they overbuilt it because they wanted an impressive demonstration.It created an international incident because the demonstration was picked up bySoviet monitoring satellites.
"Anyway, the bona fides were established. The next thing was to get thebusiness done and get me into harness in a program. I was all for it, but Bob[Nichols] started getting spooky on me. He wanted to receive the setup of ourend offshore, in Singapore. He wanted to receive $20 million dollars in cash inSingapore,and he wanted to use certain of the technology overseas,namely in Australia, OK?
"Bob started drinking a lot. He was obviously under a lot of pressure fromsomewhere, and his fascade of respectability started to crack. About that timeBob began pressuring me to do things a certain way. We'd already been approvedat the executive level by FMC. But we still had to go through the legaldepartment and FMC is a publicly held stock corporation. So we still had to gothrough the shareholders for about eight months, which put us about a year awayfrom consummating the deal.
"So, I asked Bob for some extra money to meet my everyday expenses, but Bobsaid, `Hurry up and get the business done and then you'll have plenty of money.' I tried to explain to Bob that there was no way he could expedite this thing,and so on and so forth. Well, Bob became really overbearing. And that's whenhe demanded that I state things in the contract proposal to FMC which would havebeen misstatements, to the point of being illegal. That's when I started havingsecond thoughts about it.
"There were other people involved in the development of that technology.Bob wanted me to pay him out of my share and make no reference to the otherpeople in the agreement. But when you've got the University of California andthe University of Chicago having 16 percent of your company, having 16 percentof Hercules Research and Interprobe, you know, how could I misrepresent theinterests of my dad, Moriarty and [Admiral] Al Renkin in a deal with a U.S.publicly held corporation [FMC]?
"At that time, Riconosciutohad been Vice President of Meridian Arms, a subsidiary of Meridian InternationalLogistics. But he was also technical advisor for F.I.D.C.O. (FirstIntercontinental Development Corporation) of which Nichols was on the Board ofDirectors. Noted Riconosciuto, "I walked into F.I.D.C.O. in equal goodfaith. And that also turned sour because Bob wanted me to illegally takeembargoed technology out of the United States, to run an operation withembargoed armaments and high technology outside of the United States.
"So I walked out on Bob. And Bob put the heat on me and they wouldn'tleave me alone. When I got remarried [to Bobby Riconosciuto],they continued to harrass me by putting out false intelligence reports on me tolaw enforcement ..."
I asked Michael why he didn't fight back? Michael responded, "You don'tseem to understand. All my involvements were under closely controlledsituations. There's only one time in my life when I was planning on doingsomething offcolor, and it never went anywhere. All the rest of the time,everything was under complete controls. I never took any elective actions. Everything was, you know, on direct orders. And I got to the point where Ibalked with Bob Nichols and that's when he went ballistic on me."
Riconosciuto said he was in the process of cleaning up hislife in Washington state when a private investigator from Inslaw contacted him. "I didn't want to get nailed for piracy of that software, so I talked to myattorney, who talked to the Inslaw attorneys, and I gave them a declaration. And about that time, Peter Viedenieks, who was an associate of both Robert BoothNichols and Dr. John Nichols, called me and told me I was my own worst enemy. He said if I didn't cool it, if I didn't stonewall any further requests forinformation from the House Judiciary Committee, I was going away forever. Itold Viedenieks that I was already in too deep, and he repeated that `I was myown worst enemy.' Seven days later I was arrested on drug charges."
Ted Gunderson was one of the few "cooperating" witnesses at Michael'strial. Through his affidavit and testimony, Ted hoped to supply the defensewith needed corroboration of Michael's covert government sanctioned activities. Unfortunately for Michael, Ted could not disclose numerous activities whichhad included Robert Booth Nichols. At one time Gunderson, Nichols andRiconosciuto had been inseparable, like the three musketeers. But, Nichols was currently under investigation by the Los Angeles FBI foralleged involvement in organized crime in the U.S. and abroad.
Fortunately, however, Gunderson's resume added credibility to the provocativeaffidavit he entered into court on Michael's behalf. He had been Senior Special Agent in Charge (SAC) at Los Angeles FBIheadquarters from 1977 to 1979 when he retired from the FBI and went to workas chief investigator for F. Lee Bailey, Esq. Prior to that, from 1960 to1965, Gunderson was Special Agent Supervisor at FBI headquarters in Washington,D.C.. Interestingly, amongst a prestigious list of positions nationwide,he was also SAC from 1973 to 1977 in Dallas, Texas (where he becamefriends with Clint Murchison, Jr., according to his livein partner, J.M.. J.M.stated in phone interviews that she and Gunderson attended parties withMurchison in Dallas, and Gunderson phoned him often from their Manhattan Beachhome).
In 1979, Gunderson received the Alumni Highest Effort Award in the Field of LawEnforcement from Sigma Alpha Epsilon Social Fraternity at the University ofNebraska. In 1979, he also received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from theUniversity of Nebraska in recognition of distinguished and devoted service tohis country.
Gunderson's handwritten affidavit, submitted to Michael's lawyer on September27, 1991, read as follows (excerpted): "I, Ted L. Gunderson, make thefollowing free and voluntary statement. No threats or promises were made to getme to make this statement. I was born 11/7/28 at Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"In early 1986, I met one Ralph Olberg through a friend of mine, BillSloane. Sloane is a former official with HUD. Sloane was appointed byPresident Ronald Reagan to the HUD position after the president was elected in1980.
"Olberg is a prominent American businessman who was spearheadingprocurement of U.S. weapons and technology for the Afghanistan rebels.
"In late Spring or early summer of 1986, Ralph Olberg, one Tim Osman,Michael Riconosciuto and I met in a room at the Hilton Hotel,Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, California. I accompanied Michael Riconosciuto,and Osman and Olberg were together. We were there to discuss Olberg's role withthe worldwide support network involving the Mujahaden, Afghanistan ResistanceMovement against the Soviets.
"In particular we discussed the ability of the Mujahaden's willingnessto field test weapons, new and esoteric in the field and to return a researchreport, complete with photos.
"We also discussed the capture and/or defection of high ranking Sovietmilitary personnel who had sensitive compartmentalized information and theavailability of their briefings. We discussed one person who was a Sovietdefector and was a communications officer who had detailed information of thehighest levels of Soviet military C3I (Command Control Intelligence andCommunications).
"We also discussed the Soviet directed weapons system referred to in theconversation as `Blue Death.' Michael and I were told by Olberg that witnessesstated the corpses did not decay even after being exposed and unburied for sixmonths.
"We discussed the possibility of Michael analyzing one of these unitscaptured in the field by the Afghan rebels for the purpose of having Michaelhelp their technical experts developeffective countermeasures.
"We discussed a military joint venture in Turkey to producespecialized ammunition. We discussed a lobbying effort to legally obtainStinger II missiles as well as the various Stinger post and Stinger alternates. Michael was to formulate a plan to sanitize the electronics of any Stingers thatwould be at risk of Soviet capture so any information gained from a capturedStinger could not be effectively used against the U.S. or NATO forces.
"This report was to be presented to a Congressional position as support forthe lobbying effort to convince Congress to legally sanction the shipment ofthese missiles to the Afghan rebels.
"We discussed Michael's proposed modification of Chinese 107 MM rockets andhow to reconfigure the package into a backpack portable effective artillerycounter battlery system.
"We discussed Michael's connection with the Chinese weapons position,Norinco, to provide the basic components for the unassembled rocket system. Wediscussed the modification and assembly of these 107 MM rockets and theirlaunchers at a facility in Pakistanknown as the Pakistan Ordinance Works.
"It was my understanding from the discussion that we were working on alegally sanctioned arms assistance project to the Afghan rebels and that RalphOlberg was working through the Afghan desk at the State Department as well asthrough Senator Humphreys office. "This was subsequently confirmed byjournalist Danny Casolaro who was recently `suicided.'
"Olberg indicated a potential turf battle problem with certain factions ofthe CIA and his group MSH (Management Science For Health). Innegotiations and/or lobbying efforts with Congress, the CIA MSH people werearguing that Ralph and Tim Osman's group did not truly represent the leadershipof the Afghan rebel resistance.
"Tim and Ralph proposed calling their people and having an unprecedentedleadership meeting in Washington D.C. to prove that their group did in factrepresent the full leadership of the Mujahaden.
"When I recently called Ralph, he denied that the above meeting had takenplace and then after prodding, he finally admitted to it and he asked me not totalk about it. This five page statement is true and correct to the best of myknowledge. Ted L. Gunderson."
Later in my investigation, I obtained from Michael Riconosciuto'sfiles in the desert, a handwritten note from "T.G." to "Michael"which read as follows: "Raymond is arriving at LAX 7:55 p.m. Air Canadavia Flight 793 from Toronto. Will have to go through Customs. This willgive us another member for our drug/arms operation." The note gave atelephone number where "T.G." could be reached. "Raymond,"referred to in the note, is presumably Raymond Lavas, Gunderson's formerforensic's expert during his tenure in the FBI.
Michael's trial was not going well. He called and asked me to contact R.J. andbring him to my house. Michael was ready to talk he wanted me to set up aphone conversation in which he could preliminarily open negotiations for entryinto the Federal Witness Protection Program. I was out of my depth here. Ihad no idea whether R.J. would cooperate with such a request. Nevertheless, Icalled him and related Michael's proposal. He said he had no authority toapprove such a request, but he would take the information and pass it along.
He arrived at my home early the following week and Michael called as scheduled.Excerpts from that first taperecorded conversation went as follows: (Michael didmost of the talking) " ... In the Fresno area, there was a group ofpeople known as theFresno Company, and the Bernard brothers were involved in it and JamieClark was involved and all of these people seemed to have charmed lives ...
"The Company was originally out of Lexington, Kentucky and Mena,Arkansas. Brian Leighton was the assistant U.S. Attorney who was the mosteffective person in formulating a strategy in the Justice Department to go afterthese people.
"We recognized what they were, for what they were, at that time, and therewere a few ATF guys down in Los Angeles that recognized them for what they were,OK? Here was a group of over 300 people, most of them exlaw enforcement andexmilitary, exintelligence people involved in a major drug and smugglingoperation. And they were involved in compromising activities. The bottom linewas espionage.
"And all Leighton served to do was vaccinate the group againstfurther penetration. Just hardened them. And all the major sources that weredeveloped from inside turned up dead. A federal judge in Texas turned up dead.
" ... This is a nasty bunch of people. And they're still alive and well. Now where that dovetails into my current situation,is in 1984 I was involved with Robert Booth Nichols who owns Meridian ArmsCorporation and is a principle in F.I.D.C.O., First Intercontinental DevelopmentCorporation. The CEO of FIDCO is George Pender and Bob Maheu was VicePresident ...
"FIDCO was an NSC [National Security Council] corporate cutout. FIDCO was created to be the corporate vehicle to secure the financing for thereconstruction of the cities of Beirut and Damour in Lebanon. And they wereworking out of an office in Nicosia, Cyprus.
" ... And here I got involved with a group of people that were all highprofile and should have been above reproach. FIDCO had a companion companycalled Euramae Trading which operated througout the Middle East. I came incontact with the PROMISE software (unintelligible). Euramae had a distributioncontract with several Arab countries and I was asked to evaluate the hardwareplatforms they had chosen. That was IBM/AS400 stuff ...
" ... That had come from IBM Tel Aviv but it came through a cutout, LinkSystems, because they couldn't deal directly with the Arabs.
"And I came across a guy named Michael T. Hurley and I thought he workedfor the State Department but it turned out he was incountry attache for the DEAin Nicosia, Cyprus. [Nicosia is the capital of the island of Cyprus, off thecoast of Lebanon]. Now, the DEA had no real presence in Lebanon. Neither didanybody else, including the Israelis. They had their usual network of contactsbut it was very ineffective. The only way to penetrate that situation, wasto get into the drug trade.
"Euramae got into the drug trade and I was told that it was a fullysanctioned NSC directed operation, which it turns out that it was ...All those operations were bonafide and all the people who were in them weredefinitely key government people, although they were not who they said theywere.
"They all worked for different agencies other than was stated. Probablypart of the normal disinformation that goes with that. And I was technicaladvisor for FIDCO and we had auspices through the government of Lebanon to getin and out of Lebanon.
"But as far as going to the eastern part of Lebanon, unless you wereconnected with the drug trade, your chances were slim coming outunscathed ... They built a network throughoutthe Bekaa Valley, and [Robert Booth] Nichols ... he is under HaroldOkimoto from the Hawaiian Islands.
"Harold Okimoto was represented to me as being an intelligence person,which he is. He has worked under the auspices of [Frank] Carlucci foryears. [Carlucci was former CIAdeputy director and former Defense secretary]. Apparently Haroldperformed services for the U.S. government during World War II. He's ofJapanese ancestry. I guess he was rewarded for services well done.
" ... Harold operates through a company called Island Tobacco Corporation. He has contracts for all the condiments at all the casinos in Atlantic City, inReno, in Vegas, in Macao, China ... he's got contacts in Honolulu, the Orient... a couple of Jews he knows in Bankok ... and there is a casino, no a cityabout 15 miles north of Beruit that Harold has his fingers in.
"When FIDCO was wheeling and dealing on financing for the reconstruction ofthe infrastructure of Beirut, they were making sweetheart deals with Syrianmobsters and the brother of the president of Syria, Hafez Assad.
" ... The intelligence people in their infinite wisdom decided tocapitalize on the longstanding battle between Rifat Assad and his group and theJafaar family. Selectively they were backing both people, but they were alsoplaying them off against one another, developing networks. They got a bunch ofprominent Syrians thoroughly compromised and they were in tow in theintelligence game. And they had people that could get me in and out of theBekaa Valley, even out of certain areas of Syria.
"From an intelligence standpoint, it was a success. But to maintainthe credibility of those intelligence operations the heroin had to flow. To make it real. And the stuff was starting to accumulate in a warehouseoutside of Larnaca. "I personally was in a warehouse where Hurley and George Pender andGeorge Marcobie (phonetic spelling) told me there wasupwards of twentytwo tons. And even though it was packaged forshipment, the smell of it in that closed warehouse was overpowering. You know, white heroin like that has a certain odor because of the wayit's processed.
"They had authorization for what they called `controlled deliveries'into the United States. And they would target certain cities and thenfollow the stuff out, ostensibly unmaskingthe network and conducting prosecutions.
"However, the operation became perverted at the U.S. end of thepipeline. Controlled heroin shipments were doubled, sometimes tripled,and only one third of the heroin was returned to the DEA.
"At a certain transfer point at the airport in Larnaca, the excessbaggage from the original controlled delivery would be allowed to go through. Iwas given the names of the narcotics people who were handling that. Butthere were a couple of agents who were on the up and up, and they hadsuspicions.
"An intelligence agent who worked with DIA is now deceased. His name wasTony Asmar and he got on to the operation early on, and started going toe to toewith Hurley [DEA]. He died in a bomb blast and it was ascribed to terrorists. And it actually was terrorists who did it, but his cover was deliberately blown. Myself and others suspected Hurley and Bob Nichols and Glen Shockley wereresponsible for that ... "
After researching Michael Riconosciuto's information, R.J.noted to me that Michael gave mostly valid information, but he could not provethat Michael had been involved. He did, however, verify (through Customs)that Michael HAD been in Lebanon,but he could not verify the details of the drug operation.
Michael responded (on a taped message to R.J.) by visually recounting the DEAapartment/condo in Nicosia, Cyprus: "The DEA had a condo, I think it wason Columbra (phonetically spelled) Street, in Nicosia, Cyprus [off the coast ofLebanon].
"They had a ham radio station there. It was an ICOM single side bandamateur radio setup, with a linear ..."
"Were you actually there?" I asked. Michael quipped, "Yes, Iwas there," then continued. "I can describe the antenna system, onthe top floor and the way it's wired up and everything. Unless you were there,you wouldn't know it was ICOM equipment.
"Now, the game plan with Euramae and Hurley's operation ..." Pause. " ... You need to understand that the airport in Lebanon was closed down. I took the ferry from Larnaca to Jounieb. Now Jounieb was slightly south ofwhere the casino city was and the casino city was intact. Beirut was anightmare, and so was Damour, because the PLO destroyed the infrastructure byburrowing bunkers, and there was no water, electricity or phones. It was acombat zone.
"The Syrian mob controlled the Casino du Liban in a little city north ofBeirut. It was used as a front by narcotics people. Island Tobacco,owned by Harold Okimoto, sells all the cigarettes there. Now, I could give youthe names of the families. They pitted them off against one another. F.I.D.C.O. was to finance the reconstruction of the infrastructure of the citiesof Beirut and Damour. Deals were cut as to who got what concessions. Therewere certain families, like the ElJorr family that had to be placated. Andthere was Rifat Assad and his group. "Tony Asmar figured out what wasgoing on with Hurley, that they were shipping `noncontrolled' loads ofheroin back to the U.S.. They killed Tony ..."
"What were the names of the people you were working for over there?," I asked. Michael's time was always limited on the phone.
"Ok, there was a man named Maurice Ganem. He had a relative, either abrother or a cousin, who is a senior DEA official with Michael Hurley. I can't remember his name right now. Anyways, Maurice was agency, youknow, in country, in Lebanon. And Maurice and I and George Pender workedtogether."
"Which agency? CIA or DEA?," I asked.
"CIA." Michael continued. " ... And then there wasDanny Habib. Danny Habib and Bob Nichols worked out of Cario (phoneticspelling) and Italy."
"And Bob was NSA or ..." "No, Bob was NSC at that time."
"George Pender and Bob Clark were the high level contacts on all of this. Bob Clark got drummed out because he was clean. And McFarland then took over,OK?"
"So, it was George Pender and McFarland and Michael McManus[Assistantto President Reagan at the White House]."
I asked, "What was your involvement with that particular operation?"
"I handled communications protocol. All the communications and financialtransactions. If I could get my records on line I could show all the moneyflows, everything."
Michael called back later that day and we continued our conversation. He wasintent on talking to someone in FinCen (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network). " ... The keystone cops are working on my defense. You know it's really anordeal. Have you talked to R.J. again?"
"No Mike, he's not giving much information."
"Listen, tell him that not only am I willing to polygraph, but I need someexpert help and I think he needs some expert help. In the league we're playingin, the only guys we can get that have the wherewithall are with FinCen. Thatstands for Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Get me a technical guy thatspeaks my language."
"Alright, Mike ..."
"I'm talking about Swift Chips. That stands for Clearing House InterbankPayment System, Ok?"
"Im mad, OK?"
"I'm real mad. The government has all my files and records. They've gotall of my optical storage disks. Each of those optical storages, 130 of them,contains 20,000 plus pages. They jacked me around so bad ..."
" ... Get an expert that speaks my language, and I'll tell him everything Iknow and he can do so much damage, they won't need my testimony or anythingelse."
"Mike, everything you know about what?"
"Tell R.J. it goes all the way back to the Cayman Islands and the Bahamasand Castle Bank. Norm Caspar ... Resorts International Bank ..."
"How'd you get this stuff?"
"I handled the money for them, OK?"
" ... For the Wackenhut people. For Norm Caspar who was a Wackenhutemployee during all of this. Now, there was the Workers Bank in Columbia. Ican't pronounce the Spanish name for it, I just know it as Workers Bank. I setup their virtual dead-drops ..."
"It's a way to get around A.C.H. reconciliations on a daily basis. It'lltake an expert, you know, I can't even talk to a normal human being about this..."
" ... And the bottom line here is Bob Nichols and Gilbert Rodriguez,Michael Abbell, whose now an attorney in D.C., but he was with the criminalsection of the Justice Department and Harold Okimoto, and Jose Londodo, andGlenn Shockley are all in bed together. (Three years after thisconversation, Michael Abbell was indicted for laundering money for the CaliCartel).
"Now Ted Gunderson ..."
"Mike, have you got any paperwork on that?"
"Now, wait a minute. Gunderson was physically with me when Wayne Reeder,Peter Zokosky and his wife and several of Wayne Reeder's lieutenants, BobNichols and his wife, Harold Okimoto, George Pender, Deborah Pender, DillPender, and myself were all together ..."
" ... Where?"
" ... At Wayne Reeders country club, golf club, in Indio, California. AndBob discussed openly in front of Ted Gunderson and myself and everyone present bragged about Glenn Shockley and Jose Londono having 3,500 soldiers. It's nowalmost double that ..."
"What does that mean? What are the soldiers?"
Mike: "R.J. will know what it means."
"This took place in 1983. I have correspondence on the things we weredoing. But I was in fear of my life because Bob was starting to act irrational. The guy was getting drunk all the time, waving a gun out of the car window,shooting in the air, you know, just really doing a mind trip on me. I've beenon the run ever since ..."
"Listen, Mike, what do you need from FinCen?"
"If I had help from the FinCen people, I could reconstruct my files. Tellthem that I need two types of computers. I need a VAX 11730 set up with two RLOII disks; one RA80 and a TU80 tape drive. That's one package. And then I needa VAX 3900 computer. Now the reason why I need the older, slower VAX and Iknow where to get all this stuff, no problem, I've got the VAX's in SouthernCalifornia, but I need a place to set them up and somebody to operate them, andjust follow my instructions."
"Now, the VAX Series 3900 machine ... it's too complicated to go into whatmass storage devices, but those are the two levels of machines I need.
"Ok, I'm thinking about going to visit your wife in Southern California, doyou want us to bring those computers up here?"
"No, No! No, leave them where they're at. Tell R.J. to find someone atFinCen. If we move them around, we're going to wreck them. I'm not trying totalk down to R.J., but this is too far above him."
"Mike, Raymond Lavas turned some of your disks over to the JackBrooks investigative committee (House Judiciary Committee on Inslaw)."
"Yeah, I know. There's no data on those disks. What that is, is that is asubset of VAX B.M.S., OK? What I do is I modify some of the VAX BMS routines toactivate a one time pad encryption scheme. That's why I have to have two RLO2drives on the VAX 11730, because one RLO2 Platter is a system planner, the otherone is the one time pad. The data is on a 1625 BPI 9 track tape on the TU80tape drive. That's the system configuration."
"If you say so."
"Now, R.J. needs to put me in touch with somebody he trusts at FinCen. There's about 120 experts there. There are a few guys there that speak mylanguage.
"What's the encryption key?"
"Well, they're ten digit numbers ... it's a one time pad, but it has apseudorandom, prime number expansion system ..."
"Mike, do you have access to PROMISE through this system?"
"What? Oh, I've got access to PROMISE, I've got access to FOIMS ..."
"Well, PROMISE is the one that's going to get you off the hook in court."
"Ok, I understand that. But PROMISE and FOIMS are one and the same. Nowthey will say no, that's not true, but in Virginia where the FBI has theircenter, and where the Justice Department has a center in D.C., they're bothAmdahl mainframes, OK?"
" ... You see, I want that RLO II Platter out of the hands of the BrooksCommittee and into the hands of somebody who'll do with it what I tell them todo. I don't want somebody to run it up without first getting my instruction."
"Does it have to be that particular one?"
"Yes, either that or it will take me six months to rewrite the subset. They want me to give them the codes to unravel everything. If I did, theywouldn't know what to do with it anyway. They'd make a mess out of things."
"Mike, what are you going to provide to FinCen?"
"I'm going to show them how these boys handled the life blood of thecash flow on a day to day basis. I'm going to unmask the whole operation ..."
"Anything specific on Robert Booth Nichols?"
Mike: "Nichols is Harold Okimoto's godson. He's also Renee Hanner's(phonetic sp.) boy, and Wolfgang Fosog's (phonetic sp.) boy."
" ... And who are they?"
"The FinCen people will know. There's also Octon Potnar "
"Alright. Well, if I'm going to play around with this, I don't want to bein the dark ... I could end up like Danny. I've got to know what I'm dealingwith ."
"If you get the right guy at FinCen, he'll jump at this, OK? We've got tostart right now. We're talking about some time getting things up and rolling towhere we're fluid and flexible and functional in their system internationally. They'll be able to watch the daily transactions ..."
Michael continued to request of R.J. that he be connected with someone "trustworthy"at FinCen, to no avail. He also requested to be placed into a WitnessProtection Program, again offering to assemble his computer equipment in asecret location and provide FinCen with a day by day view of Mob (and MCACorporation) illegal banking transactions.
According to Michael, before his arrest, he had been handling goldtransfers, money laundering, "virtual dead drops," altered ACH dailyreconciliations and other transactions for various underworld figures includingRobert Booth Nichols, Harold Okimoto, George Pender, Wayne Reeder,Michael A. McManus, Norm Caspar, Gilbert Rodriguez, Jose Londono, GlenShockley, and others.
Michael continued to call and give me taperecorded (at his request) messages topass on to R.J. The man accepted the messages, but they just went down the big,black hole and never emerged again.
One message in particular later became significant to me. The message fromMichael to R.J. went as follows: (Quote) "There are three dozenC130's down at the Firebird Lake Airstrip on the Gila Indian Reservation inArizona. Check out J & G Aviation, it's an FBO. The Fresno Company isalive and well down there.
"The real activity is not at Mirana, it's at Firebird Lake Airstrip. Other airlines operating at Firebird are Beigert, Macavia International,Pacific Air Express, Evergreen and Southern Air.
"Question to R.J.: How much cocaine or heroin can be transported in aC130? Do you want the C130, or do you want the guys who orchestrate it?
"Do a matrix link analysis, then sit down and pick the targets. Otherwise, you will tip off the others and the proof will dry up.
" ... Brian Leighton made 29 arrests out of five hundred within theFresno Company. All Leighton succeeded in doing was to `vaccinate' the FresnoCompany against further penetration."
Riconosciuto said he had a fragile window into thisorganization (The Company), but Leighton and others were causing the window toclose by being too public about their investigation.
The message continued regarding Robert Booth Nichols: "Bob Nicholsruns Glen Shockley. Glen Shockley runs Jose Londono. I [Michael] sat with BobNichols and Mike Abbell. Bob handed him $50,000 cash to handle an internalaffairs investigation that the Justice Department conducted which would have ledto the extradition of Gilbert and Miguel Rodriguez and Jose Londono.
"Bob Nichols told me [Michael] that it was necessary to `crowbar' theinvestigation because they were `intelligence people.'
"Michael wanted to hand The Company and Bob Nichols over to FinCen inexchange for entry into the Witness Protection Program, but nothing wasforthcoming from R.J.
It was two years before I learned who Mike Abbell, Gilbert Rodriguez and JoseLondono were. Abbell had worked in the criminal division of the JusticeDepartment, according to Bill Hamilton. Hamilton added that, to hisknowledge, Abbell had left the DOJ in 1982 and went directly into the Bogota,Columbia law offices of Kaplan and Russin.
A member of our loosely coalesced investigative team, George Williamson, aformer San Francisco Chronicle reporter, obtained Abbell's background fromlibrary directories: From 1973 to 1979 Abbell was staff assistant to theAssistant U.S. Attorney General. From 1979 to 1981 he was the Director ofthe Office of International Affairs of the Criminal Division of the Departmentof Justice.
After leaving the Department of Justice in 1982, Abbell became counsel at thelaw firm of Kaplan, Russin and Becchi, with offices in San Francisco,California Bogota, Columbia Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic Bangkok,Thailand Tapai, Taiwan New York Madrid, Spain and Miami, Florida.
As of this writing, Abbell was listed as working in his own firm with a partnernamed Bruno Ristau (Ristau and Abbell) in Washington D.C. Ristau was alsoformerly with the law firm of Kaplan, Russin and Becchi. And from 1958 to 1963he was an attorney in the Internal Security Division and Civil Division of theDepartment of Justice. He was also with the DOJ from 1963 to 1981 where he wasDirector of the Office of Foreign Litigation. Ristau speaks German, Polish,Spanish and French. He was Chairman of the Division of International Law of theWashington D.C. Bar from 1971 to 1973. In the American Bar Association from1981 to 1984, he was Chairman of the Committee of Private International LawPractice. He is also a member of the American Society of International Law. Ristau is obviously a heavyweight in the field of international law.
A TIME magazine article, dated July 4, 1994, described Gilbert Rodriguez asa "leader of the Cali [Columbian drug] cartel, which controls 80% of theworld's cocaine trade." The newly elected president of Columbia,Ernesto Samper Pizano, was accused of taking $3.7 million in campaign funds fromRodriguez, which in effect, put Samper in league with Columbia's drug lords.
Three audio tapes of conversations between Rodriguez and Samper's campaignmanager, Santiago Medina, had been handed over to U.S. State Departmentofficials before the election, but nothing was done. DEA officials werefurious, stating to TIME that "No one did anything. They [the StateDepartment] allowed this travesty to take place. Everybody, including the U.S.government, is participating in this coverup."
The State Department responded, "We can't interfere with elections."
I pulled out a book from a dusty corner of my library entitled, "CocainePolitics" by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, and looked up the nameGilbert Rodriguez. On page 83,Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela and Jose Santacruz Londono were mentioned aspart of the early leadership of the Cali cartel. On page 88 it wasnoted that the "Calibased Ocampo and Gilberto Rodriguez had been theprincipal targets of a major DEA Centac investigtion that resulted inindictments of Rodriguez in Los Angeles and New York in 1978."
At that time, President Jimmy Carter's Human Rights foreign policy in LatinAmerica distanced the CIA under Stansfield Turner (later aWackenhut Board Director) from any deathsquad interdiction. The Carteradministration was also reportedly reluctant to go after Ocampo because of itsdetermination in 1977 to sign a Panama Canal treaty with General Torrijos, eventhough Torrijos and family members were heavily involved at the highest levelsof the world cocaine trade.
The Cali cartel, described in a 1983 Customs report, laundered its profitsthrough Miami banks, one of which was Northside Bank of Miami, owned by GilbertoRodriguez. Rodriguez popped up again as the leader of a delegation to the "cocainesummit conference" in Panama City in the early 1980's. Yet, Rodriguez'sname was subsequently removed from DEA reports under the Ronald Reaganadministration. In fact, according to disgruntled DEA agents, some ofwhom suspected they were stumbling into a CIA connection, thecase was never pursued past the indictment level and the Centac 21 taskforce was totally dismantled when Reagan and Bush came to office.
So, Gilbert Rodriguez and Jose Londono were revealed to be high ranking membersof the Cali drug Cartel in Columbia. I wondered if they were also CIAintelligence operatives? Or CIA drug operatives? Or both, as Manuel Noriegahad been? Noriega had ultimately been ousted when he chose to back the violentMedellin cartel, George Bush's target. If in fact Gilberto Rodriguez had beencompromised and forced to cooperate with U.S. officials after his 1978indictment, and taking into account his strategic position of leadership in theCali cartel and his alleged funding of the newly elected president of Columbiain 1994, it would indeed place the U.S. government in a powerful controllingposition within the cartels today. In fact, it would place CIA drug operativesbehind the election of the president of Columbia! The implications wereearthshaking.
It is important to point out here that, on August 5, 1991, MichaelRiconosciuto had called Bill Hamilton at Inslaw andasked him to obtain information on former DOJ official Mike Abbell. Riconosciuto planned to trade information on Abbell, Rodriguez, Nichols andothers to the FBI in exchange for entry into a Witness Protection Program.
But Hamilton, pressed for time and not comprehending the significance of the "drug"connection, had turned the investigation over to Danny Casolaro.Riconosciuto had stressed to Hamilton that Abbell'sactivities might be risky to track and he should not take the informationlightly.
That same day, August 5, Casolaro called Bob Bickel,the Texas oil engineer who once worked as an informant for the Customs Bureau,to discuss Mike Abbell. Bickel later confirmed that Casolaro had infact discussed Abbell, Nichols and Rodriguez at length during that lastphone conversation. And he added, "Danny confronted Robert BoothNicholsabout his relationship with Mike Abbell."
Hamilton and Casolaro secretly devised a plan whereby Danny wouldconduct an inquiry with the Department of Justice, but would couch a number ofother inquiries in with the Mike Abbell inquiry to avoid alerting authorities tothe real "focus" of their search.
An October 15, 1991 Village Voice investigative piece, entitled "The LastDays of Danny Casolaro," by James Ridgeway and Doug Vaughan,shed further light on Casolaro's investigation during those last five days: (Note that most of Danny's last calls focused on "drug connections.")On Monday, August 5th, "Riconosciuto called BillHamilton from his jail in Tacoma. He wanted some information about a formerJustice Department attorney [Mike Abbell], and warned Hamilton that getting theinformation might be dangerous. Hamilton called Casolaro to help him findout about the attorney.
"That same day, Danny called Bob Bickel to say that he was "gettingclose to the source, and he would soon go to Martinsburg and bring back the headof the Octopus."
Tuesday, August 6: Casolaro had been typing steadily sinceMonday, and by afternoon, he'd finished. Olga, his housekeeper, helped him packa leather tote bag. She also remembered him packing a thick sheaf of papersinto a dark brown or black briefcase. Danny walked out the door saying, "Ihave all my papers ... Wish me luck. I'll see you in a couple of days." That was the last time Olga saw Casolaro alive.
Wednesday, August 7: According to Inslaw records, Casolarocalled the Hamiltons in the afternoon, and was put on hold. Before Hamiltoncould get free, he had hung up. At some time on that same day, Riconosciuto called Hamilton again to ask for the information about theJustice Department lawyer [Mike Abbell]. Hamilton called Casolaro, but he hadalready left for Martinsburg.
Thursday, August 8: Casolaro called Danielle Stalling and askedher to set up appointments for him the next week with a former police officer,now employed as a private investigator,to learn more about the Laotian warlord Kuhn Sa's proposed Golden Triangledrug trade.
Friday, August 9: By now Hamilton was starting to worry. I talk to Dannyeveryday," Hamilton said. "I had never [gone without speaking to himfor so long] before, so I called Bob Nichols in Los Angeles and asked whether hehad heard from Danny recently."
Nichols told Hamilton "Yes," he had spoken with Danny late Mondaynight [August 5th] and he had been "euphoric." Nichols told Hamiltonhe (Nichols) was taking off for Europe that evening.
It was at that point that Olga, Danny's housekeeper, received four or fivethreatening phone calls. The first was about 9 a.m., a man's voice, in goodEnglish, said, "I will cut his [Danny's] body and throw it to the sharks."Abouta half hour later, another call came in. "Drop dead," the man's voicesaid.
Saturday, August 10: At 12:30 that afternoon, a maid knocked on the door ofroom 517 at the Sheraton Martinsburg Inn. Nobody answered, so she used herpasskey to open the door; though it had both a security bolt and a chain lock onthe inside, neither one was attached. When she glanced into the bathroom, shesaw a lot of blood on the tile floor and screamed. Another hotel maid came intothe bathroom and saw a man's nude body lying in the bloodfilled tub. There wasblood not only on the tile floor but splattered up onto the wall above the tubas well. The police were called to the scene.
At 8:30 p.m. that night, unaware that Danny's body had been found, Olga, Danny'shousekeeper, returned to Casolaro's house to look for him. Thephone rang. A man's voice said, "You son of a bitch. You're dead." It was not until Monday, August 12, that authorities notified family and friendsthat Danny Casolaro was dead.
Had Danny in fact called Robert Booth Nichols on Monday, August 5th, andconfronted him about his relationship with Mike Abbell? Had he told Nichols heplanned to meet with FBI officials from Lexington, Kentucky? And what aboutFBI agent Thomas Gates, Nichols' antagonist? SPY magazine's article on DannyCasolaro indicated that he spoke with Gates threedays before his death, relating a conversation in which Nichols had warned himto abandon the investigation.
Riconosciuto later conceded that he had tried repeatedly toreach Hamilton and Casolaro between August 5 and 10th to warnthem NOT to mention Abbell or Rodriguez to Nichols, but it had been too late. Bill Hamilton told one investigator that he did NOT know WHY Riconosciuto wasinquiring about Mike Abbell - until AFTER Danny's death.
Bob Bickel's confirmation that Danny WAS trailing Mike Abbell in the lastdays before his death indicate that Danny may have unknowingly stepped into thelargest narcotics trafficking/intelligence operation the world.
Another indepth article came to my attention which further corroboratedDanny's investigation of Gilberto Rodriguez. "The Strange Death ofDanny Casolaro," by Ron Rosembaum in Vanity Fair's December1991 issue included an interview with Michael Riconosciuto. According to Rosenbaum, Danny's investigations were taking him into areas thatinvolved dangerous knowledge and dangerous characters. It was Danny's habit of"bouncing" Riconosciuto's stories off Robert Nichols that put him inperil, Riconosciuto told Rosenbaum. One of the things he reportedly "bounced"involved a major heroinrelated sting operation.
Another involved Riconosciuto's claim about an "effortby the Cali cocaine cartel to derail the extradition of an alleged Columbiankingpin called Gilberto."
Nichols "went ballistic," according to Riconosciuto,when Danny bounced the Gilberto (Rodriguez) matter off him. Riconosciuto saidhe tried to warn Danny. "I called from that day on it was on a lateMonday Tuesday, Wednesday, all the way through the weekend when they foundDanny [dead]," he said. "Every day I was calling the Hamiltons,asking if anybody had heard from Danny. And I was frantic."
Labeled by Rosenbaum as the "resident demon of the labyrinth," Riconosciuto said "Danny's theory was different from thetypical megaconspiracy theory. Danny was dealing with real people and realcrimes."
Rosenbaum asked Riconosciuto about the germ warfaretechnology he had found in Danny's notes. Riconosciuto admitted that he hadlearned about "horrible things" going on at the Cabazon Indianreservation but did not elaborate on the subject. Wrote Rosenbaum, "Thisis the labyrinth [that] Riconosciuto was leading Danny into the one he died in."
Just days before his death, Danny had planned to visit the reservation. In hisnotes were cryptic references to slowacting brain viruses like Mad CowDisease, which could be used against targeted peopleby slipping the virus into meat pies. Riconosciutotold Rosenbaum that Danny was "concerned" that he may have been atarget of this virus. "That was one of the reasons he [Danny] had such anobsession with this story. He felt he had been hit by these people."
Accordingly, Riconosciuto filled Danny's head withallegations of Robert Booth Nichols' sinister, international covertworldconnections. He painted a picture linking Nichols to organized crimesyndicates, the fearsome Japanese Yakuza, and various CIA andBritish intelligence plotsemanating from Nichols' friendship with "a legendary Bondish Brit knownas `Double Deuce' [Sir Denis Kendall]."
Riconosciuto said Nichols was the key to Danny's Octopus. But Danny was receiving warnings from Riconosciuto's counterpart as well. Robert Booth Nichols had flown to Washington D.C. from Puerto Rico to warn Dannyto stay away from Riconosciuto.
Danny's girlfriend, Wendy Weaver, had been present at one of the meetings at theFour Seasons Hotel bar when Nichols issued the warning: "You don't knowhow bad this guy Riconosciuto is ... he might not get youtoday, he might not get you next month. He might get you two years from now. If you say anything against him he will kill you."
Nichols repeated the warning several times, said Weaver. "At least fivetimes." Weaver described Nichols as "very charming, very handsome,"but said "it [the meeting] was a weird night, so weird."
Another friend of Danny's met Nichols at a luncheon at Clyde's in Tysons Cornerwhere Nichols allegedly informed them that he had just been asked to become "ministerof state security" on the island of Dominica. Reportedly, the island wasgoing to be transformed into a CIA base. The friend, who spoke toRosenbaum on condition of anonymity, said Nichols was "very slick, verycivilizedappearing" ... "oozing intrigue," but he added that hehad never witnessed a performance like the one that ensued.
After lunch Danny had pulled his friend aside and showed him a purported FBIwiretap summary on Nichols. The summary was part of FBI agent ThomasGates's affidavit in Nichols' slander suit against him. The summary linkedNichols to the Yakuza and to the Gambino crime family as a moneylaunderer.
Danny's friend had been shocked. "You just put me in a meeting with thisman and didn't tell me what the hell why didn't you tell me before?," heasked Danny. Danny said he wanted to see how Nichols would react. The friendtold Rosenbaum, "In other words, he gaffed me with a hook and tossed me inthe water to see if the Octopus would move!"
Danny HAD in fact been receiving death threats on the phone. One threatreported by his housekeeper, "You're dead, you son of a bitch," whichcame hours AFTER Danny's body had been found, ruled out Danny himself as apossible source of the threats. And his prophesy to his brother, Tony Casolaro,"If anything happens to me it won't be an accident," made itunmistakably clear that Danny did, indeed, feel threatened.
Nevertheless, Danny appeared upbeat to most of the people he talked to prior tohis death. Dr. Tony Casolaro, a specialist in pulmonarymedicine, told Vanity Fair that he didn't believe his brother committed suicidebecause Danny was so excited and upbeat about his investigation on that lastMonday when he saw him.
The autopsy examination of Danny's brain had revealed possible symptoms ofMultiple Schlerosis, but friends and family dismissed this as irrelevant becauseDanny had never complained of symptoms or, to their knowledge, known of thedisease, if he had it.
Tony was also troubled by a number of facts, one of which was Danny's currentpapers and files which he took to West Virginia were missing from his motelroom. His body had been embalmed even before family members were notified ofthe death, and the motel room had been commercially cleaned before any type ofinvestigation, other than a cursory look at the death scene by police, couldoccur.
In his Vanity Fair article, Ron Rosenbaum wrote that he had obtained one of Casolaro's surviving notebooks and found mentioned under the headingof August 6, four days before Danny's death, the name "Gilberto." It read: "Bill Hamilton August 6. MR ... also brought up`Gilberto.'" Rosenbaum did not speculate publicly who Gilberto mightbe, but it was obviously Gilberto Rodriguez, head of the Cali Cartel, at thattime deeply involved with Michael Abbell, formerly of the Department of Justice.
A dozen or so drafts of Casolaro's proposed manuscript along withnotes and phone bills had been sent to the Western Historical ManuscriptCollection at the University of Missouri by his brother, Dr. Tony Casolaro.TonyCasolaro had sent the material to the University because, at one time, the IRE(Investigative Reporters and Editors) Association, headquartered at theUniversity, had researched the fatal carbombing of reporter Don Bolles inArizona.
Bolles had been researching a mobconnected gold smuggling operation in thatstate. Through Tracy Barnett at IRE, I learned that a graduate student at theUniversity had been assigned to catalog all Danny's material for eventualinsertion into a data base. In contacting the graduate student, who by then(September 1994) worked for ABC in Houston, Texas, I learned that few if anyjournalists had inquired about the notes.
But, interestingly, Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Zipperstein from LosAngeles, working for the Department of Justice, had requested copies of Danny'sNOTES, but declined Danny's phone records. The graduate student noted that thenotes and drafts of Danny's proposedmanuscript focused on a Cabal of intelligence people who, originallyconsisting of numerous names, were subsequently narrowed down to abouteight. One of those names was Glen Shockley. Shockley, of course, waslisted on the Board of Directors of F.I.D.C.O. along with Robert Booth Nichols.
Shockley was also a corporate partner in Meridian International Logistics,headed by Nichols. Shockley was also a CIAcontract employee (according to several sources) who allegedly "ran JoseLondono" of the Cali Cartel. This according to Riconosciuto'staped interview with government agents while negotiating for Witness Protection.
I purchased everything of any significance pertaining to Danny's writings anddocuments, including the FBI wire tap summaries which corroborated everything Ihad learned to date.
In reviewing the summaries, it became apparent that the FBI hadinadvertently stumbled onto a CIA drug trafficking operationwhich included high ranking La Cosa Nostra figures, the Gambino crime family andthe Japanese Yakuza.
One affidavit in support of an application to intercept wire communications overthe telephone listed names of those to be intercepted: Robert Booth Nichols, Eugene Giaquinto (then President of MCA CorportionEntertainment Division, and corporate partner with Nichols in MeridianInternational Logistics), Angelo Commito, Edward Sciandra, Michael DelGaizo, Joseph Garofalo, and others.
The purpose of the interceptions was to determine "source, type andquantity of narcotics/controlled substances, methods and means of delivery, andthe source of funding for purchasing of narcotics/controlled substances."
The intercepted conversations read like a "Who's Who" of organized crime. It was also apparent that Eugene Giaquinto enjoyed a specialrelationship with John Gotti.
Ann Klenk, a long time friend of Danny Casolaro's and formerassociate of Washington D.C. columnist Jack Anderson, held all his personalnotes which were not sent to the University. In a September 14, 1994 phoneinterview, she noted that the last time she talked to Danny, that last Mondaybefore his death, he told her he'd cracked the Inslaw case.
I asked her, "Do you think he resolved that?"
Ann responded, "Oh, yes. I KNOW he did. He TOLD me he did. He said,`Ann, I broke Inslaw.' And I said, `Geez, Danny that's great!' But, I neverasked him what he found because he was very despondent about it. He said, `Youcan have it. You and Jack [Anderson] can have the story. I don't even wantit.'"
Ann said Danny was disgusted and related their last conversation: "I said,`Danny, you worked on this [so long] and now you don't want it?' He said, `It'sjust a little piece of the puzzle anyway.' See, Inslaw led him into this,but Danny quickly became more involved with the drug aspects ... with the CIAaspects, with the Wackenhut aspects."
I said, "I know what you mean, because I followed the same trail."
Danny's proposed drafts and notes obtained from Western Historical ManuscriptCollection at University of Missouri revealed information never published inmainstream media. Typewritten and handwritten lists of contacts included namesand telephone numbers of Ted Gunderson, Raymond Lavas, Robert Nichols, PeterZokosky, Bob Bickel, Fahim Safar, Earl Brian, Peter Dale Scott, Art Welmus, JohnVanderwerker, Jack Blum, Dr. Harry Fair, Bill Hamilton, Bob Parry, Bill McCoy,and numerous others.
Most of Danny's drafts focused on the Southeast Asian heroin connection, CIA drug money used to finance the Contras, and the ability of terrorists to send missiles containing dangerous chemicals and biologicaldiseases into the U.S.
One typewritten draft, entitled, "Behold, A Pale Horse," described an "internationalcabal [in Southern California] whose freelance services covered parochialpolitical intrigue, espionage, sophisticated weapon technologies that includedbiotoxins,drug trafficking, money laundering and murder-for-hire." According to Danny, the cabal continues today, "its origins spawned thirtyyears ago in the shadow of the Cold War."
Casolaro's June - July (1991) phone bills told a story of theirown. Having followed Danny's investigative trail for three years, I had anentire directory of phone numbers relating to his inquiries. Most obvious wereDanny's numerous calls prior to his death to Robert Booth Nichols in LosAngeles. Most of the calls from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles lasted anaverage of one to two hours, invariably in the wee hours of the morning 1:50a.m., 12:36 a.m., 1:13 a.m., 12:18 a.m., etc.
It was also apparent that Danny was riding a seesaw with Nichols andRiconosciuto. He would talk to one, then the other, often onthe same day, back and forth for months. Then suddenly, he cut off Riconosciutoand his calls to Nichols increased in frequency.
Other phone numbers matched those of Ted Gunderson, Alan Boyak, a lawyer inUtah, Bo Gritz, Heinrich Rupp and Chuck Hayes, a self-professed (on the Internet)CIA operative. Danny often called Hayes immediately after he spokewith Nichols. Oddly, Hayes never came forward during the official investigationof Danny's death to disclose the content of those conversations.
Within six months of Casolaro's death, Riconosciutowas again attempting to trade information in exchange for entry into a WitnessProtection Program. But this time, instead of using Casolaro or Bill Hamilton,he was using me to make the contacts.
At Riconosciuto's request, I contacted a man whom I willidentify as N.B. at the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) in SanFrancisco. Michael had advised me to call this agent because the BATF was "TreasuryDepartment" as was FinCen.
I set up the phone meeting and Riconosciuto called the SanFrancisco BATF collect, as scheduled. N.B. listened attentively to Michael,then ran a check on him through the departmental computer system. Shortlythereafter, I received an unnerving phone call.
N.B. advised me in strong terms to "get out of this" while I stillcould. He said I would end up getting subpoenaed as a witness if I didn'tdiscontinue my investigation. He added that sometimes people got killed orcommitted suicide when they got involved with Michael Riconosciutoor Robert Booth Nichols.
N.B.'s computer inquiry had bounced back on him. His superior in the BATF hadbeen notified by someone from another agency he didn't say who who hadinstructed N.B. that he was to have NO further contact with Michael Riconosciutoor me.
When I related this conversation to Michael, he indicated no surprise, butimmediately wanted to be put back in touch with R.J. He needed someone in thegovernment with access to his files to verify his credibility and get thatinformation back to Tom Olmstead, his attorney. Regarding the computer inquiry,Riconosciuto explained as follows: "I know what'shappening here. Tell R.J. if he uses FOIMS, Field Office Information ManagementSystem, and if he leaves an audit trail, he's going to be exposed. There areall sorts of different levels of flags on my name. Whenever the computer gets ahit, the issuing agency is notified as to who made the request and from where itcame."
"Mike," I asked, "how can he get around that? I don't understand..."
"Listen, whenever there's a hit on one of those flags, whether it's a wantor [a] warrant, or whether it's simply an administrative interest, unbeknownstto the user who's making the request, his access is audited. Tell R.J. beforehe starts making inquiries, no matter how discreet he thinks they are, that heshould have someone totally uncoupled from him to enter into FOIMS."
"Now," Michael continued, "if he goes into NCIC or NADDIS, ah,NCIC is the least dangerous as far as making inquiries, because NADDIS can trackjust like FOIMS ..."
"Now, on NCIC there is a `nonelectric' filing on me and he can make therequest that way without alerting anyone. If he has trouble checking anythingout, tell him I can help him along."
"He can't call you at the jail. How can he get in touch with you?"
"Through my attorney. The minute he [R.J.] gets a line on me, ask him tonotify my attorney. Tell him he can check my attorney out through thegovernment. Tom has excellent records with the government."
"Explain to R.J. that I know PROMISE, I know FOIMS inside out. I helpeddevelop that internal tracking audit trail ..."
I had lost all hope of R.J. rescuing Michael Riconosciuto,and I think in his heart, Michael knew that too, but I passed the informationalong as requested. R.J. politely accepted the information as he always did,then I never heard from him again.
Through one of Michael's contacts, I was able to obtain the corporate documentson F.I.D.C.O. Corporation (First Intercontinental Development Corporation). This formidable organization lead me straight to the head of The Octopus.TheBoard of Directors of FIDCO consisted of the following principles:
(1) Robert Maheu, Sr, Vice President, Director former FBI agent,former CEO of Howard Hughes Operations, senior consultant to Leisure Industries.
(2) Michael A. McManus, Director, Vice President and General Counsel toFIDCO former Assistant to the President [Reagan] of the United States atthe White House in Washington D.C.
(3) Robert Booth Nichols, Director, Sr. Vice President and Chairman ofInvestment Committee Chief Executive Officer of R.B.N. Companies,International, a holding company for manufacturing and development of hightechnology electronics, real estate development, construction and internationalfinance.
(4) George K. Pender, Director former Director of Pacific Ocean areaof Burns & Roe, Inc., an international engineering & constructioncorporation with active projects on all seven continents of the world. Seniorengineer consultant to Burns & Roe, Inc.
(5) Kenneth A. Roe, Director Chairman and President of Burns & Roe, Inc.,International engineers and Constructors, a family corporation owned by KennethRoe and family. Major current project of the company is the engineering designand construction of the U.S.A. Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactor Plant in conjunctionwith Westinghouse Electric Corporation which is responsible for the nuclearsystem supply of steam. Construction value of present business backlog of Burns& Roe, Inc. is in excess of six billion U.S. dollar.
(6) Frances T. Fox, Vice President and Director former General Manager of L.A.International Airport, former Director of Aviation for Howard Hughes Nevadaoperations, now called Summa Corporation, City Manager of San Jose, California.
(7) Clint W. Murchison, Jr. Director Owner of the Dallas Cowboys NFLfootball team.
(8) William M. Pender, Director and Sr. Vice President licensed contractor,State of California.
(9) Glen R. Shockley, Director Consultant to Fortune 500 Companies inbusiness management. Internationally known as financial consultant in funding.
The list of directors was accompanied by a letter dated January 11, 1983 onFIDCO letterhead originating out of Santa Monica, California addressed to RobertBooth Nichols in Marina Del Rey, California. The letter, signed by George K.Pender, briefly referenced a copy of a resolution resulting from a meeting ofthe Board of Directors of FIDCO.
On April 13, 1983, Robert Booth Nichols wrote a letter to Joseph F. Preloznik inMadison, Wisconsin, outlining proposed arms projects, one of which was to builda two story building of approximately 7500 square feet with concrete walls andfloors to house the "R & D position." (I later found the R &D facility referenced in a 1981 Wackenhut Interoffice memorandum as a companionfacility to Wackenhut to be constructed on the Cabazon Indian reservation forthe assembly of shell casings, propellants, war heads, fuses, combustiblecartridge cases and other weapons systems).
Nichols wrote to Preloznik, "Should there be any questions with regard tomy credibility, verification can be made through F.I.D.C.O. I haveenclosed a copy of that appointment."
If in fact, F.I.D.C.O. was a vehicle of The Octopus, then the tentacles of itsBoard of Directors lead straight to the head. Clint Murchison, Jr. of Dallas,Texas was the son of Clint Murchison, Sr. who, according to Dick Russell, authorof the book, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," (pp. 521523) was cut fromthe same political cloth as H.L. Hunt.
Wrote Russell: "Back in 1951, after General Douglas MacArthur was relievedof his Korean command by President Truman, H.L. Hunt accompanied MacArthur on aflight to Texas for a speaking tour. Hunt and Murchison were the chieforganizers of the proMacArthur forces in Texas. They would always rememberthe general standing bareheaded in front of the Alamo, urging removal of the`burden of taxation' from enterprising men like themselves, charging that suchrestraints were imposed by `those who seek to convert us to a form ofsocialistic endeavor, leading directly to the path of Communist slavery.'"
According to Russell, Hunt went on to set up a MacArthurforpresidentheadquarters in Chicago, spending $150,000 of his own money on the general'sreluctant 1952 campaign, which eventually fell apart as MacArthur adopted thestrident rhetoric of the right wing.
"Still, connections were made," wrote Russell, "CharlesWilloughby, for example, was a regular part of the MacArthurHunt entourage andundoubtedly was acquainted with Murchison as well." Both [the Hunts andthe Murchisons] cultivated not only powerful people on the far right, but alsoJ. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon, organized crime figures, and Lyndon Johnson,whose rise to power emanated directly from his friends in Texas oil.
"Like Hunt, Murchison was an ardent supporter of Senator JosephMcCarthy's anticommunist crusade. McCarthy came often to the exclusivehotel that Murchson opened in La Jolla, California, in the early 1950's. So didRichard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover.
"In 1961, after Nixon had lost the presidential election to JFK theprevious year, Murchison sold Nixon a lot in Beverly Hills for only $35,000 a lot Murchison had financed through a Hoffa loan which Nixon sold twoyears later for $86,000.
When Hoover visited the (Murchison) Hotel Del Charro, as he did every summerbetween 1953 and 1959, Murchison picked up his tab. That amounted to about$19,000 of free vacations for the FBI Director over those years.
Whether Hoover knew it or not, almost 20 percent of the Murchison Oil LeaseCompany in Oklahoma was then owned by Gerardo Catena, chief lieutenant to theGenovese crime family.
By the autumn of 1963, a major scandal was brewing around Bobby Baker, whom VicePresident Lyndon Johnson had made secretary of the Senate Democrats in 1955,when LBJ was majority leader. LBJ called Baker "my strong right arm, thelast man I see at night, the first I see in the morning."
On October 8, 1963 Baker was forced to resign, as a Senate investigation of hisoutside business activities began producing sensational testimony on numerousquestionable deals. "Baker's deals were tightly interwoven with theMurchison family and the Mob," wrote Dick Russell. "What first attracted the attention of Senateinvestigators was a lawsuit brought against Baker in 1963 by his associates in avending company, alleging that he failed to live up to certain bargains. Thoseassociates were, for the most part, Las Vegas gamblers; one of them, EdwardLevinson, was a lieutenant of Florida mobster Meyer Lansky, whose Fremont Hotelin Vegas was financed through a Hoffa loan.
"Baker, it later turned out, did considerable business with the Mob in LasVegas, Chicago, Louisiana, and the Caribbean. Through Baker, Levinson had alsogotten to know Clint Murchison."
"Clint Murchison, Jr. [listed on the Board of Directors of FIDCO] triedto persuade the Senate Rules Committee in 1964 that his ownreal estate dealingswith Jimmy Hoffa in Florida were `hardly relevant' to the Baker investigation."
Robert Maheu (Senior Vice President and Director of F.I.D.C.O.), wasalso mentioned in Russell's book, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," (pp.190). Wrote Russell: "Back in 1960, with then vice president Richard Nixonserving as the White House's liaison to the CIA's Cuban operations,the CIA had initiated its long series of assassination attemptsagainst Castro. The `cutouts' in the operation started with Las Vegasbillionaire Howard Hughes's righthand man, Robert Maheu, who got intouch with organizedcrime leaders Sam Giancana, JohnnyRosselli, and Santos Trafficante, Jr. They in turn enlisted the directassistance of Cuban exiles ..."
Throughout my conversations with Michael Riconosciuto thenames of Robert Booth Nichols, George Pender, Glenn Shockley and Michael McManus(other directors of F.I.D.C.O.) cropped up repeatedly, but I found fewreferences to them in any published books or magazines. Riconosciuto oftenstated that George Pender and Glenn Shockley were CIAofficials, which I later corroborated through Peter Zokosky, a partner of RobertBooth Nichols's.
In August, 1994, I did, however, manage to obtain three significant letters withthe signatures of Michael A. McManus and George Pender on them.
The following letters on F.I.D.C.O. confirm its presence in Lebanon.
Letter No. 1 Written on White House letterhead stationary, dated,June 29, 1983, from Michael A. McManus, Assistant to the President (Reagan)to George K. Pender in Santa Monica, California:
"Dear George: It was good to see you again. I appreciate the update youand your associates gave me concerning the status of your efforts in therebuilding of Lebanon.
"Without question FIDCO seems to have a considerable role to offerparticularly in the massive financial participation being made available to thegovernment of Lebanon.
"As you are aware, the United States government is providing financial aid. We are very interested in the success of the rebuilding effort in Lebanon. Iwill appreciate your continuing to keep me posted. Best personal regards.Sincerely, Michael A. McManus, Assistant to the President."
It is interesting to note that in 1982, one year before the above letter waswritten, Israel invaded Lebanon in a bid to crush the PLO strongholds there andinstall the Gamayel family in power. At that time TelAviv was supporting theultraright Christian Phalange militia . It was the Christian Phalangistmilitia which first brought Lebanon into the heroin trade. And the powerfulChristian Gamayel family which led the way in turning to outside forces formoney, guns and political support. Foremost among those sources was theinternational heroin trafficking network.
This according to Bill Weinberg, editor of High Times magazine, who wrote theindepth article, "The Syrian Connection" in March 1993. Weinberg alsonoted that as far back as 1955, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings learnedthat Sami el Khouri, the Gamayel's chief of finances, was importing rawTurkish opium into Lebanon, where it was processed into heroin and thenshipped to Sicily for reexport throughout America and Europe.
El Khouri controlled the Gamayel family's shipping lines, trading, truckingand air freight companies. El Khouri's machine was the Lebanese wing of theFrench Connection the wing that continued to do business with the Siciliansin a bid to propel the Gamayel family to power.
After the Israeli invasion, the Lebanese Parliament elected to thepresidency Bechir Gamayel who had long been on the CIApayroll. But before he could take office, Bashir was killed by an assassinsbomb, and Bechir's brother, Amin, was installed as president.
The following letter from George Pender, President of FIDCO, to President AminGamayel in Beirut is printed in its entirety here.
Letter No. 2 Written on F.I.D.C.O. letterhead stationary, dated July 12, 1983,from George K. Pender, President of FIDCO, to President Amin Gamayel,Presidential Palace, Beirut, Lebanon.:
"Dear Mr. President: I had visited Beirut in February and May, 1983 todiscuss FIDCO participation in the redevelopment of Lebanon. These meetingswere held with the Chamouns, Maurice Ghanem and Mourad Baroudy. Ofparticular interest is the fact that FIDCO offered to arrange the financing ofprojects considered, provided they were in the government sector. Unfortunately, the response, to date, is dragging and a golden opportunity forLebanon is slowly dying.
"I had made no effort to see you at that time as I thought it more prudentto delay until I had something more tangible to present. I expressed specificinterest in the rebuilding of Damour and Alkhyam. FIDCO has presented theseprojects to an international Trust with whom we have a close relationship, andwe are very confident that we can arrange the funding under InternationalChamber of Commerce format, provided FIDCO can negotiate turnkey contracts onboth projects. We are ready, willing and able to proceed immediately on thisbasis.
"I understand you will be at the White House on July 22nd. Would it bepossible for me to meet with you in Washington, D.C. on July 21st briefly sothat I may personally present our interest in Lebanon? As per copy of attachedletter, the White House is actively interested in our efforts.
"For your personal information, I was a good friend of Bechir. I was withhim in Beirut in 1976 when the Syrian Army came in to police. When he latervisited the United States on a speaking tour, my wife and I went to Framingham,Massachusetts to meet with him. I miss him tremendously.
"I would appreciate your reply as soon as possible. You can also reach mevia telex 652483 RBN [Robert Booth Nichols] ASSOCS LSA. Thank you for yourtime and consideration. Sincerely yours, George K. Pender."
I cannot stress enough the importance of this letter From George Pender to AminGamayel. In the very first paragraph of Pender's letter he noted that "MauriceGhanem" participated in the meetings held in Beirut in May 1983 todiscuss F.I.D.C.O.'s participation in the redevelopment of Lebanon.
Michael Riconosciuto had stated (on page 40 ofthis manuscript) that he had worked directly under "Maurice Ganem" andGeorge Pender in Lebanon! Riconosciuto had explained that Maurice hada "relative, either a brother or a cousin, who was a senior DEA officialwith Michael Hurley."
Then, in a 1993 book entitled, "Trail of the Octopus" by DonaldGoddard with Lester Coleman, on page 152, I stumbled across the name of FredGanem in the following context: "The number of DEAcontrolleddeliveries of heroin down the pipeline to the United States had increasednoticeably during the winter as a result of Fred Ganem's special knowledge ofthe Lebanese communities in Detroit, Houston and Los Angeles."
This was independent corroboration of a link between F.I.D.C.O. (George Penderand Michael McManus) and the very same heroin operation in Nicosia, Cypruswhich Riconosciutohad described in detail to me in December 1991!
It also directly connected George Pender with Michael T. Hurley. Goddard andColeman recounted how "members of the Jafaar clan and other DEA courierswould arrive at Larnaca with suitcases full of highgrade heroin, white andcrystal, and be met off the boat ... by officers of the Cypriot PoliceNarcotics Squad, who then drove them up to the Euramae office in Nicosia."Inhis interview with R.J. (page 37), Riconosciuto hadmaintained that "F.I.D.C.O. had a companion company called Euramae Trading..." Three years later, "Trail of the Octopus,"described Euramae as such: "Coleman was given a desk at the EuramaeTrading Company., Ltd., a DEA/CIA `front' newly set up by theCypriot Police Narcotics Squad in a luxury threebedroomed penthouse apartmentdown the street from the US Embassy. It gave him the creeps from the start.
"Intended as a place where DEA and CIA agents could meetunobserved with informants and clients, as a message drop for CIA armsdealers supplying Iraq and the Afghan rebels, as a waiting room for DEA CI'sand couriers from Lebanon, and as a transit point, not just for heroin,but for cash, documents and bootleg computer software moving to and fro alongthe BeirutNicosiaUS pipeline, Eurame, as run by ElJorr, was more like a lowlifesocial club than a secret intelligence centre." Coleman had complained toHurley, but Hurley had just brushed it aside.
It is noteworthy that George Pender listed Robert Booth Nichols's "telex"number at the bottom of his letter to Lebanon President Amin Gamayel. During that time span, Nichols and Pender (when they weren't in Lebanon) wereoperating a NSC listening post from a condo at Marina Del Rey. It was allegedly the U.S. end of the Nicosia, Cyprus operation. MichaelRiconosciuto, Ted Gunderson and Allan Boyak, an attorneyrepresenting Riconosciuto, all had stories to tell about apartment number "007." More on this in a moment. Next, was the Lebanese response to George Pender'saforementioned letter (No.2).
Letter No. 3 Written on Arab Bank Limited letterhead, dated November 23, 1983,from Abdul Majeed Shoman, Chairman/General Manager of Arab Bank Limited inAmman, Jordan to George K. Pender in Santa Monica, California:
"Dear Mr. Pender: Mr. Ahmad has talked to me about the fund to reconstructLebanon and we the Arab Bank together with a group of other banks will be gladto cooperate with you concerning this respect.
"We shall discuss, in future, how this cooperation will be made and on whatconditions and plans.
"You have mentioned in your letter to Mr. Ahmad on September 27th thatthis fund amounts to US$ three billion or more. There is no problem to takecare of this by the Arab Bank and the other group of banks as stated above. Theterms and conditions will be discussed with you provided the condition is clearin Lebanon and subject to the approval and counter guarantees of the LebaneseAuthority. Yours sincerely, Abdul Majeed Shoman, Chairman/General Manager."
It is unlikely any "reconstruction" (funded by F.I.D.C.O.) evertook place in Lebanon. Only a Congressional investigation could determine whatthe US$three billion dollars was actually used for.
The next document, pertaining to Robert Booth Nichols, Senior Vice President ofF.I.D.C.O., originated from an interview between Jeffrey Steinberg, a writer forExecutive Intelligence Review, and Allan Boyak, an attorney in Utah whomMichael Riconosciuto contacted immediately after his arrestin Washington state.
Michael T. Hurley had allegedly been transferred from Nicosia, Cyprus to DEA inWashington state shortly before Michael's arrest. Riconosciuto'sarrest had taken place with a week after signing the Inslaw affidavit.
It is noteworthy that Danny Casolaroalso contacted and interviewed Allan Boyak shortly before his death. According to Ted Gunderson and others who knew Danny, Boyak met with Casolaro inWashington D.C. and provided him with a copy of a transcript of the meetingbetween himself (Boyak), Riconosciuto, and Ted Gunderson, whoat that time was Riconosciuto's investigator.
I later obtained the same transcript from Gunderson's live-in partner, J.M., andhave related the contents of that explosive transcript in Chapter 13.
Meanwhile, the following "Memorandum for the File," dated 62591, waswritten by Steinberg after his interview with Boyak: (Excerpted) "I met atlength Saturday, June 22, 1991 with Allan Boyak, an attorney from Utah who isrepresenting Michael Riconosciuto in his pending drug case. Boyak is not the lead attorney and will not apparently be making courtappearances in the case.
"Boyak recounted the following personal background information: He was inthe U.S. Army in Special Forces and apparently did some contract work for theCIA during the 1960's and early 1970's. At some point in the early70's, he worked briefly for the Drug Enforcement Administration (or itsantecedent agency), being stationed in California.
"Boyak had some falling out with the DEA and left the government servicealtogether, entering law school. While in law school,Boyak became friendly with Jim Nichols, a classmate. Nichols told him thathe had a brother who was heavily involved in organized crime and had beendisowned by his family.
"Once out of law school, Boyak joined a Hollywood law firm and becameinvolved in criminal defense work, representing a number of well placed WestCoast drug traffickers. At some point, Boyak moved to Utah (he is a practicingMormon), while retaining his California law practice on a parttime basis.
"In addition to his o.c. [organized crime] clientel, Boyak also maintainedcontacts and apparently did some legal work for some of his old buddies from hisGreen Beret and CIA days. One such pal was Art Suchesk, who ran a CIAproprietary company called Hoffman Electronics.
" ... At some point in the late 1970's, one of Boyak's clients, a Mormonold boy named Cap Kressop, who was a technical wizard, was approached by RobertNichols and asked to manufacture a prototype laser site for a rifle. Kressopwas offered a $200,000 contract for the job but he became suspicious whenNichols wanted to pay him in cash.
"Boyak contacted Nichols at his Marina Del Rey, California home/office[apartment "007"] and the two had a lengthy meeting there. Boyack's description of that meeting is that it was continuously interrupted bytelephone calls and telex messages. Boyak came away convinced thatNichols was involved in large scale illegal drug operations.
"After consulting with one of his close friends from Green Beret days, thenan assistant U.S. Attorney named Dexter Leitenen (now the Miami U.S. Attorney),Boyak went to the Los Angeles FBI office with the suspicions about Nichols'activities.
"The FBI background check [conducted by Ted Gunderson] on Robert BoothNichols (born 1943 or 1944 he couldn't remember for sure) revealed that he was`squeeky clean.' In fact, he had a Class I machine gun license.
"Boyak did discover, however, that one of the people Nichols referenced asa business associate and personal friend, Harold Okimoto, was believed bysome of his sources to be a top Japanese organized crime figure based in Hawaii. Okimoto was described as a top agent in the Yakuza overseas.
"Over the next two year period, after the L.A. FBI had dropped any interestin the Nichols matter, Boyack's friend, [Arthur] Suchesk, repeatedly raninto Nichols in such places as Singapore, the Philippines, and Taiwan. Sucheskwas based out of Zurich, Switzerland during this period, apparently stilldoing his front man work for the CIA.
"Boyak says that information developed during this period, through Sucheskand others, [indicated] that Nichols was indeed a bigtime drug dealer whowas very well insulated from any U.S. law enforcement problems. Nicholsoperated exclusively overseas. Whenever he came to the United States, he neverengaged in any illegal activities.
"However, Boyak described Nichols' rum importing business as a coverfor bigtime heroin trafficking from the Golden Triangle. Nicholswas also named as `Mr. Big', according to Boyak, in the Medellin Cartel, in drugprosecutions in Utah and Los Angeles.
"Three to four years ago, Boyack received an out of the blue telephone callfrom Michael Riconosciuto. Michael identified himself as aformer employee of Robert Nichols. He also referenced Ted Gunderson as a`mutual friend.' Boyak had only met Ted once very briefly when he was pressingthe L.A. FBI to look into the Nichols dope suspicions ..."
" ... Then in April 1991, Boyak received a phone call from Ted Gunderson,informing him that `Michael was in trouble. He was caught in a governmentframeup.'
"Boyak returned to his background profile of Bob Nichols, parts of whichwere apparently provided by Bob's estranged brother, Jim Nichols. It seems thatas a young man, Robert Nichols wound up in Hawii functioning as a hitman forthe Tongs. He was `adopted' as the Yakuza godson of Harold Okimoto, a67yearold car dealer in Hawaii.
"Nichols grew up to be a big business front man for the Far Eastsyndicate. He reportedly laundered between $50200 million for FerdinandMarcos. He now owns an estate in Hawaii, a feudal castle outside of Milan,Italy and the referenced Marina Del Ray home in California.
"Nichols has an office in Zurich. At one point, he was reportedlyinvolved in the smuggling of China White heroin into Mexico where it wastreated to look like the Mexican brown heroin which was more popular at thetime.
"It should be emphasized that all of this information about Robert Nicholscomes exclusively from Allan Boyak. None of it has yet been independentlycorroborated to my knowledge. Bill Hamilton and some other people involved intracking the Inslaw story have all spoken to [Robert] Nichols and report that hehas been straightforward with them and has provided leads and documents re:Michael Riconosciuto.
"Nichols is listed on the board of directors of First IntercontinentalDevelopment Corporation (FIDCO) along with George Pender and several officialsof the Howard Hughes linked Suma Corporation."
One of the most surprising, and disturbing, documents I found in MichaelRiconosciuto's hidden files (see Chapter 9) was an envelopewith a notation on it, handwritten and signed by Ted Gunderson, which read asfollows:
"Michael: Raymond [Lavas] is arriving at LAX, 7:55 p.m., Air Canadavia flight 793 from Toronto. Will have to go through Customs. This will giveus another member for our drug/arms operation. Only problem [is] Raymond willprobably be using instead of selling. Sorry I didn't get to D.A. office. Itried to call, but no answer. By the time I fought the traffic to the bank anddid my banking, it was too late Will be home tonight (818) 8806238. T.G."
Raymond Lavas was Ted Gunderson's forensic expert when he worked for the FBI. Lavas was in constant contact with Bobby Riconosciuto afterMichael was incarcerated. In fact, everyone was watching Michael and Bobby veryclosely.
In March, 1993, two years after Michael Riconosciutohad attempted to trade information on the F.I.D.C.O./Euramae drug/intelligenceoperation in Lebanon to the government, the aforementioned magazine articleprinted in High Times magazine by Bill Weinberg, entitled, "The SyrianConnection," exposed CIA penetration into the BekaaValley drug trade in Lebanon.
Essentially, this article validated much of Riconosciuto'searlier information. The following are some excerpts:
" ... Many of Lebanon's armed factions depend on the international drugtrade for funds," wrote Weinberg. "Each paramilitary groupcontrols its own port in or around Beirut which serves as a transfer point fordrugs on the way out of Europe and America and weaponry on the way in from theinternational market. Whoever holds the fertile Bekaa [Valley] holds the ticketto power. As the war escalated in the late 1970's, hashish, the traditionalmainstay of the Bekaa, started to be replaced by the more lucrative heroin. Marijuana fields were converted to opium fields, hashish production compoundsconverted to heroin labs."
Heroin production exploded in the Bekaa Valley under the Syrian occupation. However, the Syrian occupation forces didn't touch the drugs, but "profitedfrom the trade and protected it." It was estimated that up to $2 billionin protection money was paid annually by dope plantation operators to Syrianoccupation forces.
DEA official Felix Jimenez told a reporter in 1990 that the Syrianoccupation received $10,000 per kilogram of Bekaa heroin. With the valleyproducing over 20,000 pounds a year, that was a lot of money.
Bekaa also became a center for processing Columbian cartel cocaine forreexport to European markets.
In 1988, two Syrians arrested with large quantities of heroin and coke in Milan[Italy] claimed to be working for a Syrian colonel in Bekaa. Prior to DesertStorm, Syria's president Hafez Assad and Iraq's Saddam Hussein were rivalfactions in the Arab nationalist Ba'ath Party. Syria was the only Arab nationto back Iran in the long and brutal war against Iraq in the 1980's. So whenPresident George Bush invited Syria to join the Arab coalition against Saddamafter Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Assad accepted.
After Desert Storm, Assad closed ranks with the White House and even softenedhis stand against Israel. President Bush and Secretary of State James Bakerpeddled a postwar peace plan for the region and Syria and Israel were encouragedto recognize each others' Lebanese occupation zones.
Under a 1990 accord, Christians and Muslims were finally granted equalrepresentation, officially bringing the civil war to an end. A new SyriabackedMuslimled government came to power. Under the accord, Syria maintainedcontrol of the Bekaa Valley. Among the areas still under Syrian control werethe notorious drug ports north of Beirut.
High Times maintained that there were long standing backchannel relationsbetween Washington D.C. and Damascus. According to a 1987 Pentagon memo leakedto the Chicago paper, In These Times, Lt. Col. Oliver North was personallynotified that Syrian intelligence in Lebanon was willing to negotiate with theWhite House for release of the hostages held by Lebanese terrorists.
The Washington Jewish Week reported that Bush himself had made secret visits toDamascus for hostage negotiations. But there were other reasons for the U.S. tobe in Lebanon. In 1988, when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Scotland, Pan Amhired the private investigative firm of Interfor to look into the bombing. Theowner, Juval Aviv, was reportedly a former Mossad agent.
Interfor maintained that the Syrianbacked Popular Front for the Liberation ofPalestineGeneral Command (PFLPGC) was behind the bombing. The PFLPGC had beenable to get their bomb on board the 747 because the flight was part of aheroin smuggling route run by a drug trafficking ring connected to the Syrianregime and protected by both the U.S. DEA and the CIA.
Interfor claimed the ring was overseen by Syrian kingpin Monzer AlKassar oftenknown as the world's biggest arms dealer. The CIA was protecting the AlKassar operation because he wascooperating with efforts to free U.S. hostages in Lebanon.
Reporter Bill Weinberg added that "the CIA and DEA had apparentlyboth instructed Germany's internal intelligence agency, the BKA, to allowcertain suitcases to pass uninspected onto USbound flights at the Frankfortairport, where Flight 103 originated."
Apparently, unknown to anyone except the PFLPGC and AlKassar,a suitcase which was supposed to be full of the usual heroin was covertlysubstituted with a suitcase full of explosives.
A London Times news article, dated July 22, 1991, entitled, "US DrugsSting Gave Pan Am Bomber Cover," noted that the DEA admitted that theprotection program had existed. The explanation for this operation, whichwas codenamed Khourah, was provided by Ronald Caffrey, acting assistantadministrator of the operational division of the DEA. In a U.S. governmentsubmission, dated March 20, 1991, Caffrey said the drug operation was a "controlleddelivery."
According to Caffrey, in a controlled delivery, a law enforcement agencypermits and monitors shipments of contraband, including drugs, to move from asource or transit location to its intended destination. Use of this techniqueis sometimes essential to enable law enforcement agencies to identify and arresthighranking members of trafficking organizations, rather than simply arrest lowlevel couriers.
Pan Am argued in court that it had been the pawn of an internationalintelligence operation, but still lost the case and was forced into bankruptcy.
In 1990, when the White House started to woo Syria as a partner in the Alliedcoalition, blame for the Pan Am bombing suddenly shifted from Assad's Syria toQaddafi's Libya, and that is pretty much where it stands today.
Meanwhile, AlKassar was alleged to have provided Oliver North with drugprofits to purchase arms for the Nicaraguan Contras. The U.S. Tower Commission probe into Irangate revealed that AlKassar hadbeen paid $1.2 million by Oliver North's coconspirator General Richard Secord tomove weapons from Israel to the Contras.
In her book "October Surprise," former Reagan White House aideBarbara Honegger alleged that AlKassar's heroin smuggling network in Italy wasused to launder NATO arms stocks for diversion to Iran with the help of corruptItalian intelligence officials linked to the secretive fascist Masoniclodge, P2.
It is noteworthy that AlKassar was reported to hold large tracts of land inthe Bekaa Valley. The PFLPGC also has camps in the Bekaa which were the targetof Israeli air strikes in 1989.
The U.S. government's presence in Lebanon is not to be taken lightly accordingto Lester Coleman, a selfemployed freelance writer, editor and securityconsultant who once moonlighted as a DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) covertintelligence officer when he was called to serve. Coleman, age 47, told theLondon Times that for six years he worked as an intelligence officer with thesecret unit, Middle East Collection 10 (MC10) in Cyprus, running a network ofagents in Beirut whose mission was to find American hostages held by extremists.
Coleman was paid in travelers checks sent from the Luxembourg branch of the nowcollapsed Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). Two senior MC10members, Mathew Kevin Gannon and Major Charles Dennis McKee, had been on PanAmflight 103 and had just returned from a mission in Beirut.
Coleman explained that the DEA, with the narcotics squad of the Cypriotnational police, the German BKA police and British customs, ran a "drugsting operation" through Cyprus and airports in Europe, includingFrankfurt.
The operation involved delivering heroin from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon tothe United States; the operation was codenamed "Khourah." Colemanmaintained that Pan Am Flight 103 was being used by the DEA as a "controlleddelivery" flight.
After the explosion, the Beirut end of MC10 had obviously been "blown." There were five key members of the MC10 cell in Cyprus and Beirut, one of whomwas Lester Coleman. Another was Werner Tony Asmar, a German Lebanese,who was killed in a bomb explosion at his office in east Beirut on May 26, 1988.
Another member of MC10 was Charlie Frezeli, a Lebanese army officer, who wasshot dead at his home in east Beirut in November 1989. When Asmar was killed,the DIA ordered Coleman home.
Danny Casolaro had contacted Coleman in Sweden onAugust 3, 1991, seven days before his death in Martinsburg, West Virgnia. They talked about the sale of the PROMISE software by the U.S. Government toforeign governments, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI),and the IranContra scandal.
After Coleman learned of Danny's death on August 10th, 1991, he provided Inslawpresident Bill Hamilton with an affidavit in October 1991. That affidavitread as follows:
"Affidavit of Lester K. Coleman, being duly sworn, do hereby state asfollows:
"(1) I am currently selfemployed as a freelance writer, editor, andsecurity consultant. I am a United States citizen and am temporarily outside ofthe United States.
"(2) In November 1984, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) offered me aposition in human intelligence operations in the Middle East. I was raised inthe Middle East, where I lived in Iran, Libya and Saudi Arabia. I speak threedialects of Arabic and some Farsi. I accepted the position and receivedtraining from the DIA. I was assigned to a Middle East intelligence unit.
"(3) Between February and September 1987, I was seconded by DIA to theDrug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Nicosia, Cyprus, reporting to the DEACountry Attache, Michael T. Hurley.
"(4) After a cover assignment in the United States, I was again secondedto the DEA in Nicosia, Cyprus, in early 1988.
"(5) During April and May 1988, I worked in the office of Euramae TradingCompany, Ltd. in Nicosia, Cyprus, a DEA proprietary company. On or about May29, 1988, because of my concern about poor security in the DEA operation inCyprus, I returned to the United States, having previously obtained theconcurrence of DIA.
"(6) During my two stints as a DIA covert intelligence officerseconded to the DEA in Nicosia, Cyprus, I became aware of the fact that DEA wasusing its proprietary company, Euramae Trading Company, Ltd. to sell computersoftware called PROMISE or PROMIS to the drug abuse control agencies of variouscountries in the Middle East, including Cyprus, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait andTurkey.
"(7) I personally witnessed the unpacking at the Nicosia, Cyprus,Police Force Narcotics Squad of boxes containing reels of computer tapes andcomputer hardware. The boxes bore the name and red logo of a Canadiancorporation with the words `PROMISE' or `PROMIS' and `Ltd' in the company name.
"(8) The DEA objective in inducing the implementation of thiscomputerized PROMIS[E] system in the drug abuse control agencies of the MiddleEast countries was to augment the drug control resources available to the UnitedStates Government by making it possible for the United States Government toaccess sensitive drug control law enforcement and intelligence files of theseMiddle East governments.
"(9) It is also my understanding that thirdparty funds were generally madeavailable for the purchase of these computer software and hardware systems. Onethirdparty funding source was the United Nations Fund for Drug Abuse Control inVienna, Austria.
"(10) As DEA Country Attache for Cyprus, Michael T. Hurley had overallresponsibility for both the Euramae Trading Company, Ltd. and its initiative tosell PROMIS[E] computer systems to Middle East countries for drug abuse control.
"(11) In 1990, DEA reassigned Hurley to a DEA intelligence position inWashington State.
"(12) I became aware in 1991 that Michael Riconosciuto,known to me as a longtime CIA asset, was arrested inWashington State by DEA for the manufacturing of illegal chemical drugs. I hadalso become aware of the fact that Riconosciuto had made a sworn statement,prior to his arrest, about his participation in a covert U.S. intelligenceinitiative to sell Inslaw's PROMISE software to foreign governments.
"(13) In light of Hurley's personal involvement in the U.S. Government'scovert intelligence initiative to sell PROMIS[E] software to foreign governmentsand his reassignment to a DEA intelligence position in Washington State inadvance of the DEA's arrest of Riconosciuto, the arrest ofRiconosciuto should be regarded as suspect. I do not believe that Hurley'sposting to a drug intelligence position in Washington State in advance ofRiconosciuto's arrest on drug charges is merely coincidental. Rather, theprobability is that Hurley was reassigned to Washington State to manufacture acase against Riconosciuto in order to prevent Riconosciuto from becoming acredible witness about the U.S. Government's covert sale of the PROMIS softwareto foreign governments.
"(14) The investigative journalist Danny Casolarocontacted me in Europe on August 3, 1991. Mr. Casolaro had leads and hardinformation about things that I know about, including Department of Justicegroups operating overseas, the sale of PROMIS[E] software by the U.S.Government to foreign governments, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International(BCCI), and the IranContra scandal. I subsequently learned of Mr.Casolaro's death in Martinsburg, West Virginia, one week later, on August 10,1991. I contacted Inslaw in October 1991, after learning about Mr.Casolaro's death under suspicious circumstances."
Village Voice magazine ran an article entitled, "The Last Days of DannyCasolaro," by James Ridgeway and Doug Vaughan on October 15,1991 which gave a brief profile of Michael Riconosciuto'sbackground:
"The 44yearold Riconosciuto is to put it mildly acolorful character, wilder than anything in `The Falcon and the Snowman.' Hewas a gifted child. When he was just 10 years old, Michael wired his parents'neighborhood with a working, private telephone system that undercut Ma Bell; inthe eighth grade, he won a science fair with a model for a threedimensionalsonar system. By the time he was a teenager, he had won so many science fairswith exhibits of laser technology that he was invited to be a summer researchassistant at Stanford's [University] prestigious Cooper Vaper Laser Laboratory. Dr. Arthur Schalow, a Nobel laureate, remembered him: `You don't forget a16yearold youngster who shows up with his own argon laser,' he told Casolaro."
Bobby Riconosciuto lived with Michael Riconosciuto at thetime of his arrest in Washington state. Immediately upon learning of hisarrest, she had fled to California with her four children, the youngest ofwhich, Elizabeth, had been fathered by Michael.
Bobby was well situated in an exclusive suite at the Embassy Suites Hotel inOrange County, California. Her suite contained a living room and baroverlooking lush indoor tropical gardens and water fountains, marble walkwaysover bridgecovered ponds and a gazebo where free breakfasts were cooked andserved to order.
Within the room, she had at her disposal office equipment, phones in every room,answering machines, room service and anything else she needed for herself andher children. Patrick Moriarty, Marshall Riconosciuto'sbusiness partner of 40 years, was paying the bills.
Moriarty and the Riconosciutos, father and son, had once owned HerculesResearch Corporation together in Hercules, California. An old Contra CostaCounty newspaper article, dating back to April, 1981, gave the story ofHercules. The subheading of the article pretty much said it all, "DeviceCould Make Hercules a Silicon Valley."
In 1981, Hercules had developed a small electronic power supply the size of atissue box, designed to specifically feed 30,000 volts of electricity to anotherdevice, a METC (Modular Energy Transfer Catalyzer) unit, that would cut theheating and cooling time in food processing and of making glass, metal and otherproducts by 40 percent.
The METC unit, patented by Interprobe of Chicago, worked by electrostaticallyexciting air molecules by moving them through a charged field. This removed aboundary layer of molecules that inhibited the exchange of thermal energy. Hercules' highvoltage power supply was essential to the application ofInterprobe's METC unit, so both companies were in the process of working out amerger in order to market both technologies as a complete system.
Admiral Henry Rankin, vice president of Interprobe, was a longtime familyfriend, and was very enthuiastic about incorporating the Hercules power packwith Interprobe's high voltage electrostatic technology.
Patrick Moriarty and Marshall Riconosciuto had fundedresearch for 15 years and spent about $1 million of their own money on theproject.
By 1983, things were not looking so good for Patrick Moriarty. The Los AngelesTimes newspaper reported in a series of articles that "fireworks magnate W.Patrick Moriarty, his business and associates spent nearly half a milliondollars in the last three years to influence government decisions throughoutCalifornia."
Moriarty's relationships with several key state legislators and his campaigncontributions to elected officials from Anaheim to Sacramento had made him apowerful force in state and local politics. His association with the notoriousRobert Ferrante, head of Consolidated Savings and Loan which failed in 1985, andwho was the subject of a disorganized, onagain offagain FBI investigation, waswritten up in the book, "Inside Job," by (Mary Frick?).
Patrick Moriarty was described as "the manufacturer of Red Devil fireworks,who founded the Bank of Irvine. The bank failed in 1984, the victim of fraudand mismanagement, according to regulators." In 1985, Moriarty pleadedguilty to mail fraud in a case that became the biggest political scandal inCalifornia in 30 years. Over 10 prominent politicians, including one statesenator, were indicted for taking bribes from Moriarty.
Though I'd spoken with her on the phone numerous times, I first met BobbyRiconosciuto facetoface on January 15th, 1992. On the day Ivisited her hotel suite, I hauled my Mita copy machine on a cart up to her roomand we talked and made copies of documents all morning. Bobby was young, boxomand attractive in a natural, mother earth sort of way. Her long blond hair hungloosely around her shoulders, she wore no makeup, and her nose and mouth had animpish upturn that made her appear to be smiling even when she was not.
We became friends as the day progressed. Bobby confided that some of the moresensitive material was stored at Michael's hidden trailer in Trona, California.
While working at Wackenhut, Michael had anticipated a future need to have ahiding place for himself and his files in the event that things got out ofcontrol. Bobby, who had met Michael in Washington state after he leftWackenhut, had been instructed by Michael to stay away from the trailer in caseshe was being surveillanced.
The files and computer equipment stored there were Michael's last ace in thehole. Nevertheless, Bobby was frustrated by the slow progress of Michael's courtdefense, by R.J.'s lack of response to Michael's request for Witness Protection- and she had been barraged by reporters who wanted documented proof ofMichael's statements.
I offered to drive her out to Trona, near Death Valley, to retrieve Michael'sfiles and ultimately, she acquiesced. We arrived at the isolated trailer atdusk and began sorting through documents that could substantiate Michael's claimthat he worked for the government.
The electricity had been shut off and as it became dark, we were forced to useflashlights. Bobby was terrified that we might get caught in that Godforsakenplace. The children were cold and tired, and from sheer exhaustion, she finallyoffered to turn all the boxes and documents over to me to make copies at home.
We threw everything helter skelter into large plastic trash bags, dumped thebags into my Chevy van, and quickly headed back to civilization.
It is noteworthy that before we left, Bobby pointed the flashlight towardsanother, smaller trailer situated on a knoll overlooking the road, which sheclaimed contained Michael's hidden computer equipment.
It was several weeks before Michael learned that Bobby had turned the documentsover to me. She never told him, nor did I. It was through Jonathan Littman, aSan Francisco Chronicle reporter whom I had confided in, that Riconosciutolearned of our secret.
Upon arriving home from my trip to the desert, I had xeroxed roundtheclock forfive days with help from trusted friends. The documents corroborated everythingMichael had related over the phone, and more.
It was an exciting time. Boxes and boxes of documents provided me for the firsttime with a window into the CIA corporate structure, arms deals, drugoperations, money laundering, biological technology, all the connectingtentacles of Danny Casolaro's "Octopus."
After making copies, I squeezed the originals into eight large packing boxes,sealed them tightly, and sent them back to Bobby Riconosciuto,via a friend, who gave them to Michael's father, Marshall Riconosciuto.
I later learned Marshall allegedly shipped them to Ian Stuart Spiro forsafekeeping. It was not until April, 1993, that I learned what became of Spiroand the documents.
An Associated Press news story entitled, "Deaths Linked to Spy Network,"published in the Merced Sun Star newspaper, outlined the death of IanStuart Spiro, 46, who was found dead of cyanide poisoning in the AnzaBorregodesert on November 8, 1992, one week after his wife and children were found shotto death in their Rancho Santa Fe home.
The news story, originating from the Oceanside Blade Citizen, noted that "documentsand U.S. intelligence sources implicated Spiro in the IranContra armsforhostagesaffair and an alleged Justice Department conspiracy to pirate software from aprivate company and sell it to foreign intelligence agencies."
Spiro's name also appeared in Lt. Col. Oliver North's personal notebooksdocumenting the IranContra affair, according to the National Security Archivesin Washington D.C..
Former hostage David Jacobsen told the BladeCitizen shortly after Spiro'sdeath that Spiro helped negotiate the release of hostages in the Middle East.
After obtaining a copy of a followup BladeCitizen article dated June 3, 1993,entitled, "Spiro Probers Want to Talk to North" by Wade Booth, StacyFinz and Michael Williams, I learned thatIan Spiro lived in Beirut, Lebanon during the 1970's and 1980's where he "madecontacts with Lebanese religious leaders and the Islamic Jihad."
Greg Quarton, Spiro's brotherinlaw, told reporters at the BladeCitizen thatSpiro maintained communication with Lebanese business associates until the timeof his death, but investigating officers had possession of Spiro's phonebills, and as of this writing, they had not released them.
San Diego sheriff's Capt. Jim Marmack said detectives were investigatingallegations by Spiro's relatives that his file cabinets and business paperswere missing.
The week of the Spiro family's death, Robert Corson, a business associate ofSpiro's indicted in a savings and loan scam, was found dead in an El Paso,Texas, motel room. Corson, who reportedly worked for the CIA,died of a heart attack, officials said. The BladeCitizen reported that Corsononce carried money to South America in a deal to deliver covert weapons. Corsonalso allegedly associated with California investor Wayne Reeder who was seen ata Wackenhut/Contra meeting in Riverside county (See Chapter 10).
The newspaper article went on to say that Alan Michael May, age 50, [aformer Northern California field director in Richard Nixon's presidentialcampaign and attorney for Nixon's brothers Donald and Edward] was found dead inhis San Francisco home on June 19, 1991, four days after a newspaper story inthe Napa Sentinel outlined his role in an alleged plot by Republican Partyofficials to bribe Iranian officials to delay the release of U.S. hostages untilafter President Reagan's inauguration.
Immediately after May's death, Raymond Lavas, Ted Gunderson's formerforensic's expert, (and a former protege of Robert Maheu according to MichaelRiconociuto) wrote a letter to one of Michael's friends, expressing hisprofessional opinion about the death of Michael May. A copy of that letter wasfaxed to me and the following excerpts quickly captured my attention:
"... I don't understand why it's going to take two weeks to determine May'scause of death. Did you know that certain chemical assassination methods willhave been evaporated out of the body by that time?
"Then, the cause of death would be ruled as natural, since the chemicalagents are the primary cause that result in a secondary action such as heartfailure, kidney or liver damage, etc.
"Some examples of these agents include BZ2, Ricin, Tropodotoxin, shellfishtoxia and a variety of methlamine based neurotoxinsthat affect the centralnervous system and cause failure of one or more organs in the human body.
"Some, if not most of these toxins are solvent based [DMSO] and may beintroduced in minute quantities through the skin. Their effect [may] vary andsome toxins take weeks to months to take effect. Others take moments to damagethe nervous system, then evaporate within hours.
"Unless the body is immediately refrigerated, the toxins are quicklyevaporated, leaving only one or two parts per million in quantity. Unless thereare suspicious circumstances surrounding the death, a trained forensic expertwould never detect any traces of the toxin.
"So there you have it. [Michael] May is dead and they are dragging theirasses to find out how! What is next? A statement that May died of naturalcauses? Let me predict this now ... and we'll see. Regards, Ray."
Michael May also apparently attended briefings connected with Lawrence LivermoreLabs in California according to an official listing of Lawrence Livermoreemployees at a "Briefings and Discussions" document obtained fromRiconosciuto's files.
The document, stamped, "Official Use Only," listed Edward Telleralong with nine other names, including Michael May, under the heading "LawrenceLivermore Laboratory." Other headings with names listed underneathincluded the Department of Energy, Department of State, Defense Nuclear Agencyand Naval Research Laboratory. There were no other pages accompanying thedocument, so it was impossible to determine from what manual it came from.
May's name also popped up in a letter Michael Riconosciutowrote to Dr. John Phillip Nichols at the Cabazon Indian reservation when he wasbeing screened for security clearances to work on the Cabazon/Wackenhut jointventure.
The letter focused primarily on Al Holbert, an Israeli intelligence officerwho allegedly recruited Riconosciutointo the CIA, and May's name was mentioned only once, inconnection with members of "The Company." That one sentence read as follows: "Ben Kalka's relationship withHolbert and `May' will give the proper authorities the necessary auspices tocome in and swiftly clean it [The Company] up."
Other portions of the letter gave a history of Riconosciuto'sexperience with Al Holbert (Excerpts):
" ... My problems stemmed from my association with Al C. Holbert. I firstmet Holbert when I was still in high school and I was led to believe that he wasan `unofficial' representative of the Israeli government. I was further led tobelieve that his interests were not contrary to those of the United States. Itwas not until July of 1981 that I learned the truth about Holbert. It camedirectly from him to me personally in what I will call a confrontationalsituation.
"August of 1981 was when I first brought Holbert to your [Dr. John Nichols]attention. At that time, I still did not know much and I was still in a sort ofstate of shock from my `new awareness' of Holbert. I was in deep with this guyand so wasPaul [Morasca].
"At first Paul thought that I was off base and overreacting and then bydegrees he started to come around. Much of the incredible account of Paul'sdoings (money transfers, gems, weapons, drugs) were the result of hisrelationship to Burt and Jensen. Burt, Jensen and Kalka all met Paul through his brother Joe. I was the one who introduced Al Holbert to Paul, and Paul wasthe one who introduced me to Burt, Jensen and Kalka. This was in early 1967.
"I was introduced to [Al] Holbert through the Stanford crowd at the home of[name withheld] in Portola Valley, California. Interesting enough, [namewithheld] is a former State Department employee ..."
" ... The realization of who and what Holbert is, and Paul's death, havetaken me some time to adjust to. And that required professional help. I nowhave a clear idea and good perspective on what has really happened in my life.
"I am in awe of Holbert and his group's power [The Company]. During the last year, I have forced this structure to rear its ugly head in manydifferent times and places, and in ways that can't be covered up. I have alsospread far and wide what knowledge I have with the intent to first protectothers involved and secondly to chisel the story in stone.
"Where it all stands now is that no matter who the group attempts tosilence or what ruse they attempt to perpetrate, the truth cannot be destroyed. This is now in the hands of a competent attorney. My direct involvement isfinished except to be available to answer questions.
" ... I feel that Holbert and his group represent a current nationalsecurity nightmare to this country. I feel that I have been extricated fromthe hold of this group. But I also feel that the destruction by legal means ofthis group ranks in importance with my scientific and engineering skills to theoverall picture.
"Ben Kalka's relationship with Holbert and May will give the properauthorities the necessary auspices to come in and swiftly clean it up. I wouldnow like to start out where we should have been a year ago. The first point Iwill start with is a recap of our visit to Pickitinny Arsenal ..."
It is noteworthy that two of the people mentioned in the above letter arenow dead: Paul Morasca and Michael May.
The bizarre circumstances of Morasa's death are detailed in the next few pages. Ben Kalka of The Company, is now serving time in prison for having 900 pounds ofmethamphetamine in his possession at time of arrest.
Through one of Michael's contacts, I managed to locate the current (1991)whereabouts of Al Holbert and confirm his identity. A letter written on "SolomonInvestigations" letterhead, dated June 13, 1991, to a client requestingpayment for the services of Holbert read as follows: (Excerpted) " ...I enlisted the services of my electronic countermeasures expert, A.C. Holbert,for an immediate survey and sweep of the premises. Mr. Holbert is highlyregarded as the best electronics man in the [San Francisco] Bay Area andhas recently worked with Israeli intelligence services in the field ofelectronic countermeasures. He agreed to take on this job. I have encloseda copy of Mr. Holbert's faxed report ..."
The mystery of Al Holbert was further uncovered in a 1983 transcript in whichMichael stated, "After Paul's [Morasca] death, Holbert admitted to me thathe was a Soviet backed agent, and they had a home, or he had a home for me, andI could be treated like royalty, and he reiterated that offer in the latestmeeting, and he said, `He was prepared to deliver some fivehundredthousanddollars cash to me us a show of good faith ..."
The transcript, originating from a series of tape recorded interviewsbetween Michael Riconosciuto, Ted Gunderson andRobert Booth Nichols at Nichols' "007" apartment in Marina Del Ray, provided a window into the entire drug scene in California from theearly 1960's through the 1980's, mostly relating to methamphetamine operationsin the Bay Area. It had been typed by Ellen Nichols, Robert's wife.
Riconosciuto's relationship with Ted Gundersondated back at least as far as 1982. Michael and Nichols dated back to 1967. In reading the transcript, it appeared that Gunderson and Nichols wereinterviewing Riconosciuto for recruitment into a drug/sting operation.
Riconosciuto later verified that he was, in fact,being recruited into the overseas Lebanon drug operation by Gunderson andNichols because of his (Riconosciuto's) undercover experience in thedrug trade.
It is noteworthy that Al Holbert, the Israeli intelligence agent whooriginally recruited Michael into the CIA, is mentionedextensively throughout the 71page transcript.
Riconosciuto's relationship with Holbert had lasted from 1966to 1981, a span of fifteen years. Most of that time had been devoted to complexdrug activities in California. In one passage, Riconosciuto stated that "BenKalka was one of [Al] Holbert's lieutenants. The other lieutenant with Kalkawas Charlie Weinberg, who set up the Vortex Chemical Company in Berkeley,California for Holbert."
Holbert was also interested in technology. "I really confided in him. Iwas constantly steering him to various people in the Silicon Valley, you know,for requests that he made which were very sophisticated technical requests."
In the transcript, Ted Gunderson asked Michael, "Holbert had a technicalmind for that sort of thing?"
Michael responded, "Absolutely! [He had] a firm grasp of physics,mathematics, chemistry, military hardware ..."
Gunderson asked, "Let's go back to '66 to '81, you were close to him?"
Michael: "Not on a regular basis. He would get in contact with me when heneeded consultation in certain areas. I made some good money. I designedcommunications equipment for them. I did a lot of software development ..."
Ted: "And then he gave it to the Israelis?"
Ted: "And he admitted this?"
Mike: "Oh yeah, none of it was really classified. I did software for theanalysis of radar change data. It was based on mathematical models that theDepartment of Defense wasn't using you know, my approach was new and differentfrom theirs, but it wasn't connected with any of their projects, so technicallyit wasn't classified."
Michael developed other technology along the way and subsequently attracted theattention of Dr. John Phillip Nichols at Wackenhut/Cabazon who wanted hisservices. But Michael's association with Al Holbert was hindering Michael'ssecurity clearances. Through the screening process and Dr. John Nichols,Michael had learned more about Al Holbert.
Ted: "Well, how could he [Holbert] be a Soviet agent and an Israeli agent?"
Mike: "Your guess is as good as mine. I talked to Major General Peratt onthat subject last May and he said, `You don't understand the ways of the world.' Regarding Al Holbert, I said, `That man has done more damage to my generationand my country [drugs] How can you people say that you're friends of the UnitedStates, when you send us a guy like that?"
Michael continued ..."You know, Holbert came to the United States and hewent to work for the Treasury Department out of Philadelphia and ..."
Ted interrupted. "In what way? As an agent?"
Mike: "I don't know what the relationship was. The Treasury Departmentwouldn't tell me. They wouldn't comment at all except to acknowledge that,`Yes, he was involved at very high levels, giving special training.'
" ... Holbert taught courses in interrogation techniques. He taughttouchkill techniques you know, with the thumbs on the temples and various scareareas like that. He moved around to a lot of different agencies. He gotinvolved with the FBI, and he was involved with the Drug Enforcement people ..."
Ted: "He indicated to you for fifteen years [that] he was with theIsraelis?"
Mike: "Israelis. Yes."
Ted: "And then you realized through Dr. Nichols that he was a Soviet?"
Riconosciuto explained that he thought it was John Ammarellat Wackenhut who had "zeroed in on Holbert."
Gunderson continued to press Riconosciuto about Holbert beinga double agent. Michael responded: "Well, he was with the Soviets, but hewas also with the Israelis. Holbert definitely is connected with Israeliintelligence. I mean there's no ifs, ands, buts, or maybes ... He was decoratedin combat for them."
Riconosciuto further recounted a visit to Israel in April1982. He had met a man (name unspecified) who was the assistant Secretary ofDefense of Israel for a number of years and was in charge of defense productionfor the Israeli government. This man was a friend of Ariel Sharon and he hadintroduced Riconosciuto to Sharon. It was through this man and a man named "GeneralPeratt," that Riconosciuto confirmed Holbert's position with the Israelis.
"Holbert definitely is one of their boys. I got an admission out ofGeneral Peratt that Holbert was funny, that he's a Trotskiite, and they knewabout it, and I couldn't understand why they kept a guy like that around? I wastold that I just didn't understand the ways of the world!"
Ted asked, "Who does Holbert report to?"
Mike: "Jean Pierre Boegner."
At this point in the transcript, Robert Booth Nichols interceded and providedBoegner's address: " ... His address in Paris is 114 Champs Elysees, Paris8, France. That goes into my territory ..."
Mike added, "Jean Pierre reports directly to Colonel Stefan Uznanski of theUkraine ..." Nichols noted, "I have strict files on him."
Ted asked, "And is he GRU?"
Mike answered, "No KGB."
Nichols added, "As high as you can go ..."
Ted asked, "And where is he, in the Kremlin?"
Mike answered, "No, he's in Vienna."
Nichols interjected, " ... Out of Salzberg. He has a home twenty minutesfrom Salzberg. His hobby is boar hunting. He has about a twenty mancontingent."
Gunderson asked, "Is Boegner a Canadian?"
Nichols responded, "Boegner is French. Boegner was involved in theassassination attempt on de Gaulle. Boegner served time."
Ted: "He's KGB?"
Nichols: "Oh yeah, a Colonel."
Ted: "Okay, anything else. Anything more on Holbert that we should bringup?"
Riconosciuto noted that Holbert was very disappointed that hecouldn't "turn him" (Riconosciuto) in August of 1981. Ted askedMichael if Holbert admitted at that time that he was KGB?
Michael corrected Ted, "GRU, he was GRU. He told me that he was GRU and hebragged that there were over thirtyfive thousand GRU agents active on the NorthAmerican continent. And I checked with John Ammarall and with Robert Frye[executives at Wackenhut Corporation] and they told me it was about half thatnumber.
" ... He [Holbert] wanted me to leave the United States, through Canada,and go to Israel."
Riconosciuto added, "You know, he's touched the CentralIntelligence Agency, the Treasury Department, the Secret Service and variouslocal law enforcement agencies all over the country ..."
The abovementioned transcript was mailed by one of three people to the "prosecutor"at Michael Riconosciuto's trial in Washington state where itwas entered into evidence.
At that time, to Michael's knowledge, only Robert Booth Nichols, Peter Zokoskyand Jonathan Littman, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, had possessionof it.
I subsequently received a copy of it from Jonathan Littman, whocoincidentally, I learned later, happened to be Ben Kalka's "cousin"(Kalka belonged to The Company, according to Riconosciuto,and had been arrested with 900 pounds of methamphetamine in his possession). Littman had obtained the transcript from Peter Zokosky, Robert Booth Nichols'partner.
Riconosciuto believed Littman had given the transcript toKalka during one his visits with him at the Pleasanton prison, and Kalka hadsent it on to the prosecutor at Michael's trial.
Nichols later confirmed to me that he (Nichols) had indeed interviewedRiconosciuto with Ted Gunderson in 1983 andthe transcript was legitimate, though he wouldn't state the purpose ofthe interview.
It is significant that a passage in the 1983 transcript mentioned Michael May as"one of the top three guys in the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory managementstructure" who was associated with Riconosciuto.
Michael and Bobby Riconosciuto had been communicating withJonathan Littman for months, as had Danny Casolaro before hisdeath, and they wanted me to connect with him. At that point, Littman hadwritten a series of indepth articles on the Cabazon Indians and Dr. JohnNichols, and I hadn't been interested in talking to him ... until he wrote aboutthe death of Michael's partner, Paul Morasca.
The article, entitled, "Bizarre Murders Puzzle Cops," published on thefront page of the San Francisco Chronicle on December 30, 1991, noted that thebody of Paul Morasca, 31, had been found by Michael Riconosciuto. Morasca's arms had been lashed behind his back as he was hogtied with atelephone cord from his curledup legs to his neck. Police believed he died whenhis legs finally gave out and the cord tightened like a bowstring, drawing thenoose around his neck until he slowly strangled.
Before his death, Morasca and Riconosciuto had planned abusiness venture with Cabazon administrator John Phillip Nichols to develophightechnology military hardware. Morasca was also described as a "San Francisco entrepreneur suspectedof being a money launderer involved in a major Northern California drug ring."
Oddly, when Riconosciuto found Morasca's body, he drove 500miles to the Cabazon reservation and told John Nichols about the death. Nicholsthen called his Los Angeles attorney, who telephoned the San Francisco police.
Just three days after Morasca's death, Mary Quick, a 63yearold schoolteacher was shot in the face and her purse stolen as she was about toenter Fresno's American legion Post 509, where she was president of the Woman'sAuxiliary.
At first, police assumed it to be a routine mugging murder, until it wasdiscovered that her nephew, Brian Weiss, who had been living at hisaunt's house in Fresno, was a business associateof Michael Riconosciuto's. (Brian Weiss wasalso mentioned in the abovementioned 1983 "drug transcript").
Riconosciuto explained to police that he told Paul Morascathat he had given Mary Quick a card containing secret bank account codenumbers because "she had no connection to any of the principles andcould be trusted." She had been instructed to give the code numbers overthe phone only to Paul Morasca or Michael Riconosciuto.
It was not until I obtained Michael Riconosciuto's "desert"files that the above story affected me personally. Within one of the boxeswas an envelope containing eight coded computer cards with large sums of moneyhandwritten next to the account numbers. One card, containing ten accountnumbers, indicated sums of upwards of $3.5 million dollars. That was justone card of eight.
In my next conversation with Michael Riconosciuto, I inquiredof him the "real" story behind Paul Morasca and Mary Quick's death. Idid not reveal to him that I was in possession of his bank cards, but referredto the S.F. Chronicle newspaper story.
Michael remorsefully indicated that he had not, in fact, given any cards to MaryQuick as he had told Paul Morasca he did. Michael had kept them (and obviouslyhidden them at his desert trailer). Nevertheless, Morasca believed, and undertorture revealed, that one of the cards was being held by Mary Quick and therest were stored in a safe deposit box. As we know, Mary Quick died three dayslater.
After that conversation I immediately took the cards to a professionalphotographer, had closeup photographs taken of them, and returned them in aseparate envelope to Bobby Riconosciuto. I never knew whatshe did with them.
During subsequent phone conversations, Riconosciuto oftenreferred to his former partner, Paul Morasca. During his attempted trade intothe Federal Witness Protection Program, he had made a statement which caught myattention, and which I later inquired about. While relating his background inthe electronics field, he had mentioned that he once worked at Tyme Share,Inc. Chuck Evert, a longtime family friend, had reportedly been one of thefounders along with Tom O'Roarke.
Noted Riconosciuto, " ... And at the time of PaulMorosca's death, the biggest loss I received was a big bag of bearer shares oforiginal Tyme Shares stock. And that was the main reason why Paul got killed."
Riconosciuto had stressed that only the FinCen people wouldunderstand the significance of that. I later learned that the computer cardswhich Paul Morasca and Mary Quick had died for belonged to the Tyme Sharesonline financial clearing house used worldwide by banking institutions. Essentially, the cards were provided to a subscriber or "user" whorented time on the computer for conducting banking transactions.
Riconosciuto chose not to elaborate on his operation at TymeShares from a "jail" phone, nevertheless, I was able to decipher thathe and Paul Morasca had accessed bank accounts using the computer cards inconjunction with a "password" determined by the user. Michael hadcreated the passwords from the "pets" named in Phyllis Riconosciuto's(Michael's exwife's) diary.
He did, however, randomly discuss his background with Tyme Shares: "Ideveloped the modem, error trapping routines for Tyme Share used on the originalnetwork. I developed the protected mode memory for the scientific data systems,SDS, Sigma 7 computers. And I developed the capital PERT, Pert Software, whichwas the next generation of critical path method. That's a Programmed EvaluationReview Technique that Tyme Shares, for years, was the leader in.
"And then Electronic Data Systems bought a license from them, and you know,EDS's story is legendary. Now, PROMISE is an outgrowth of PERT. The Hamiltonshad a woman programmer who was selftaught and she's the one, her signature is inthe code structures of PROMIS. It's just like her signature because she was outof the mainstream and did things her own way ..."
Shortly thereafter, while reviewing Riconosciuto's documents,I came across a copy of an obscure statement submitted by Riconosciuto in February1984 to the San Francisco Grand Jury on the death of Paul Morasca. Itcryptically tied Morasca to Wackenhut and appeared to have been transcribedfrom a tape recorded interview. The statement in its entirety read as follows:
"I first heard of Phil Porath in December of 1981. John Phillip Nichols[Cabazon administrator] told Paul Morasca and myself that we needed Phil Porathas a consultant to Recovery Technology, Inc. Porath was represented by John P.Nichols as being able to smoothly handle metals transactions for RTI on a largescale. Phil Porath was one of the contacts that John Phillip Nichols hadcommitted to arrange for Paul as part of our deal. Paul Morasca's body wasfound after he failed to contact Porath for that scheduled meeting in January1982.
"After Paul's death, JPN [John Phillip Nichols] came to me with a request. He asked me if I could recover some of Ben Kalka's LSD because he had asale for 5 lbs. of it to someone in Romania. John Phillip Nichols claimed thatthis was an authorized covert intelligence operation and the proceeds wouldbe used to purchase George Wackenhut's yacht, Top Secret.
"Military electronics equipment to be delivered to South Africa was also tobe purchased according to JPN and delivered by the yacht. I went along with theprogram because JPN told me that the `agency' was involved through WSI. I did some checking on my own and became suspicious of JPN. Then JPN met withmyself and Raoul Arana of Central Carribean Research, Inc.
"At this meeting, the details were plainly discussed by Mr. Arana. At thatpoint, JPN directed me to have PAT (Phillip Arthur Thompson) recover [all]of Kalka's assets. I then contactedDeSilva, who had control of Kalka's assets and he agreed to release them tome. DeSilva later called the Indian reservation and gave the location ofthe assets which included: one bobtail semitruck with power lift gate loadedwith amphetamine production chemicals; one red Datsun truck with aportable refrigerator containing the acid.
"I accompanied PAT and Steve Finley to the locations of these vehicles inthe Oakland area. The keys, title and registration were with each vehicle. PATand SF drove the vehicles off and I reported to JPN that the vehicles had beenlocated and picked up.
"I also reported to my attorney, DW (Don Wager), the details. I contactedJPN a few days later and he complained to me that PAT had made off witheverything.
" ... with George Wackenhut in Las Vegas. JPN told me that my problemswould be over with if I went along with the program. Brian Weiss [MaryQuick's nephew] drove me to Palm Springs where I rented a car. JPN, myself andBrian Weiss then drove to Las Vegas.
"We arrived in Las Vegas late in the afternoon. We checked into the hotel. After we checked in, I was then introduced to Phil Porath by JPN. Porathseemed a little nervous and upset with JPN. JPN seemed desperate to have PhilPorath stall George W. on the sale of the yacht. Phil Porath seemed reluctantto go along with JPN.
"JPN, myself and Porath then went to a private section of the dining roomand met with GW [George Wackenhut] and JA[John Ammarell]. Duringdinner, JPN outlined my situation. [Al] Holbert, [Ben] Kalka, [Richard]Knozzi, [and] the Fresno Company were covered in detail.
"A cutaway, sectioned high security lock was also shown to JA and GW[George Wackenhut]. JA said that this should be presented to his personalfriend, Bud Miller, for action and that I would be contacted.
"The sale of the WH [Wackenhut] yacht then came up. Porath gave GW a story[at] JPN's prompting. GW was impatient and asked where the `South African'Thompson could be reached?I then asked GW [George Wackenhut] if he was referringto PAT [Phillip Arthur Thompson] and he said, `Yes.'
"I then demanded to know what was going on? I laid out to GW what PAThad done, including murdering PM [Paul Morasca]. JPN interrupted me andtold GW that I was mistaken and it was a different PT that I was talking about. It was at that point that GW [George Wackenhut] said he had a hearing problemand the dinner broke up.
"I went immediately to make telephone calls. I spread the word that I feltmy life was in danger and that JPN, WH, and PAT had conspired to kill PM [PaulMorasca]. I then went back to the dining area where I saw PP [Phil Porath] andGW [George Wackenhut] at a small twoperson table talking about the yacht deal. JPN and JA were standing up and they asked me to come to JA's room.
"At JA's room, everybody acted like nothing had happened. There we talkedfor an hour or so about hitech projects. JPN and I then went to PP's room andtalked [about] P's missed meeting with Paul M., Bill Jensen, Burt Gardener andmetal projects. We then went to bed. The next morning JPN, BW [Brian Weiss]and I drove back to Indio. At no time did JPN mention the problem that camedown at dinner."
In John Connolly's SPY magazine article on Wackenhut, September 1992 issue, onpage 54, a brief notation mentioned Riconosciuto's meeting inLas Vegas with George Wackenhut and John Ammarell, a Wackenhut board memberand consultant to George Wackenhut. SPY contacted Ammarell regarding themeeting, and Ammarell confirmed that such a meeting did indeed take place in LasVegas. "I don't remember any specific conversations," Ammarell said, "butI think we were there to discuss the sale of George's [Wackenhut] yacht, the TopSecret. I think Nichols said he had a potential buyer."
Wrote SPY, "So, the wealthy president of a large security company withCIA ties and one of his board members meet with a drug dealerturned electronics expert and a spook turned arms supplier and all theydiscuss is the sale of a boat?"
After reading the newspaper article on the death of Paul Morasca, I contactedJonathan Littman at the San Francisco Chronicle. Littman jumped in the carand drove from San Francisco to Mariposa (near Yosemite NationalPark) when he learned I had obtained Michael's hidden documents.
Interestingly, when he arrived at my home he thumbed through piles of documents,but seemed to be looking for something specific. I later learned he was searching for Phyllis Riconosciuto's(Michael's first wife's) diary.
While Michael had worked at Wackenhut, Phyllis had been treated psychiatricallyby the Cabazon administrator, Dr. John Phillip Nichols. Part of her treatmentincluded writing a "diary" of her life with Michael. Michael laterbroke into Nichols' office at the reservation and stole the original diarybefore fleeing to Washington state.
The original diary was in fact included in the documents I had obtained in thedesert, but I decided to withhold specific pages from Littman until I coulddetermine what his purpose for wanting them was. An incident which I haveenumerated in Chapter 10, confirmed that my instincts had been subliminallycorrect.
Meanwhile, I attempted to satisfy Littman with a few documents sent to me byHenry Weinstein, court reporter for the Los Angeles Times. I had contactedWeinstein to inquire if he had written anything on Robert Booth Nichols'(unrelated to Dr. John Phillip Nichols) lawsuit against the Los Angeles FBI,specifically FBI agent Thomas Gates?
Weinstein had not heard of the lawsuit, but immediately investigated at the LosAngeles courthouse. Shortly thereafter, he sent a package of documents relatingnot only to Nichols' lawsuit against Thomas Gates, but also relative to Nichols'corporate minutes on the facilitation of biological technology to Japaneseinstitutes, copies of his weapons permits, and documents indicating that EugeneGiaquinto, Vice president of MCA Entertainment Division, was on the board ofdirectors of Nichols' corporation, Meridian International Logistics.
Marvin Rudnick, now a Pasadena lawyer, once tried to prosecute MCACorporation for organized crime involvement, but got shut down atthe highest level, and the Organized Crime Strike Force was disbanned. Onemember of that investigative team was Richard Stavin, who talked to DannyCasolaroshortly before his death.
Eugene Giaquinto and Jack Valente played heavily in Rudnick's investigation ofMCA, as did Curry Company (a subsidiary of MCA) in Yosemite National Park. Rudnick was written up in American Lawyer for his explorations through the MCAlabrynth, and at some point, worked closely with Thomas Gates during hisinvestigation of Robert Nichols. Gates and Weinstein were also well acquaintedwith Mariposa County government's relationship withCurry Company. (See page 2 of manuscript).
In return for sharing copies of these documents with him, I asked Littman tocollaborate with me on a story concerning the government sanctioned (10years!) methamphetamine operations at Whiskey Flats, on the Sara Priest Indian reservation in Mariposa. I was still intent on forcing the arrest of deputies involved in the methlab at that location. (See page 3 of manuscript). Littman instructed me to puttogether a detailed synopsis which he would submit to the San FranciscoChronicle.
Through Michael Riconosciuto, Danny Casolarohad compiled a sizable list of former CIA officers and arms dealers,the most noteworthy of whom was Robert Booth Nichols, described in variouspublications as a James Bond type who jetted around the world trading arms andother products.
At the time of Danny's investigation, Nichols headed Meridian InternationalLogistics (M.I.L.), a Californiabased company that conducted extensive businessin Australia and Japan. M.I.L. also controlled Meridian Arms Corporation ofwhich Riconosciuto was briefly Vice President.
Out of the WackenhutCabazon endeavor grew a business partnership between Nicholsand Riconosciuto, both interested in developing new, hightechsubmachine guns and powerful explosive devices that, like a nuclear blast, couldproduce an electromagnetic pulse that could wipe out an enemy's communicatinsand electronics.
The secretive Nichols chatted with Casolaro frequently. Casolaro's July phone bills indicated that he called Nichols fifteen times thatmonth, often in the wee hours of the morning. Several of those phoneconversations lasted for more than two hours. Before his death on August 10th,Danny Casolaro told his brother, Tony, and Bill Hamilton that Nichols warned himthat his investigations were risky.
According to FBI statements, Nichols is not a man whose warnings should be takenlightly. In September 1987, Special Agent Thomas Gates of the Los Angeles FBIhad begun an investigation of the activities of Robert Booth Nichols and hiscorporation, Meridian International Logistics, through Japanese and Australianlegal attaches abroad.
According to a subsequent deposition filed by Gates, the bureau suspectedNichols of being involved in a $500 million stock fraud and of maintaining tiesto the Gambino crime family and organized crime in Japan.
Gates's deposition was part of a 1987 wiretapping on the phone of EugeneGiaquinto, an official of the MCA entertainment corporation with reputed MOBlinks. Nichols was one of the people whose calls the bureau intercepted. According to the wiretap application, Nichols was allegedly an internationalmoney launderer for money generated through narcotics trafficking and organizedcrime activities.
In June, 1989, Nichols sued Thomas Gates in a California state court for libel,slander, and interference with contractural relationships when he (Gates)allegedly acted outside the scope of his employment by initiating contacts withthe Australian Federal Police and various individuals in Australia and Japan. The complaint asked for damages in the amount of $11,000,000.
Ted Gunderson submitted an affidavit on Nichols' behalf, stating that hebelieved Gates HAD acted outside the scope of his employment when investigatingNichols abroad, the suit was subsequently dismissed through the Ninth CircuitCourt of Appeals.
Robert Booth Nichols was depicted in one eastern publication as a "handsome,dashing figure, frequently described as `Clark Gable without the ears' ..." His friendship with movie actor Steven Seagal brought him a cameo appearance inthe movie, "Under Siege," but his real purpose for being on the setwas to act as technical advisor for the weaponry used in the movie.
The son of a prominent Los Angeles surgeon, Nichols is the inventor of asubmachine pistol that he maintained was superior to the MAC10.
Nichols' weapons permit application, dated January 28, 1985 from the Santa ClaraCounty Sheriff's Department, indicated that that he was born on March 6, 1943 atLoma Linda, California. In addition to his residences in California, hemaintained residences in Italy, France, Australia and London, England for "businesspurposes for twenty years."
His medical doctor was listed in Zurich, Switzerland. He had worked for HaroldOkimoto in Hawaii for four years, from 1968 to 1972 as Vice President ofPreventor Security Center, an intruder electronics firm.
The four guns registered to him included two Colt .45 automatics. His purposefor carrying a concealed weapon was listed as such: "I am involved in theresearch and development of weapons systems, ranging from the basic blowbackautomatic weapon to various advanced destructive devices. As I have detailedknowledge of the workings of these systems, I feel it is imperative to havepersonal protection for myself and for the good of the community."
Nichols' corporation, Meridian Arms, a subsidiary of MeridianInternational Logistics, was licensed in California in 1987 to possesand/or transport machine guns, Permit No. 01678, and to sell machine guns,Permit No. 01677. A 1985 Statement by Domestic Stock Corporation filed with theSecretary of State in Sacramento listed Harold Okimoto, Peter Zokosky, andGlenShockley as Directors in addition to Nichols' family.
Okimoto, Zokosky and Shockley are also listed as Directors on MeridianInternational Logistics, Inc. (MIL). Eugene F. Giaquinto, president ofMCA (Music Corporation of America) Home Entertainment Division in UniversalCity, was also a Director of M.I.L. until May 31, 1988, when he resigned andreturned his 10,000 shares of stock as a result of the Los Angeles OrganizedCrime Task Force investigation, at that time headed by Thomas Gates.
The May 25, 1988 Minutes of an MIL Board meeting reflected Robert Booth Nicholsconcern with the investigation: " ... Upon meeting with Agent Gates onMarch 8, 1988, our legal counsel, Judge Mark Robinson, interpreted the line ofquestioning of Agent Gates as having a main focus on the relationship betweenRobert Nichols and MCA, Inc. (of which Mr. Giaquinto is an officer).
" ... Therefore, due to Mr. Nichols' concern, which Mr. Giaquintounderstood and thus stated he would submit written resignation within two days;it was the unanimous decision of the Board to remove Mr. Giaquinto from theposition of Director of MIL forthwith ..."
Nichols' concern with such an investigation can well be justified when youreview the Minutes of an MIL board meeting held in Sherman Oaks on August 26,1988. The following business was discussed and voted upon: (Excerpted)
"It was the unanimous decision of the Board to draft a letter to thePresident of an internationally recognized Medical School in Japan (asreferenced in our corporate minutes of April 24, 1988) with regard to ourcorporation's intention to make available a grant of funds to said School,as the funds become available to our corporation, and under specific terms andconditions.
" ... The phenomenal success in the field of immunotherapeutics by theImmunology Department of said Japanese Medical School has convinced the Board[of MIL] that the EXCLUSIVE training of qualified physicians under contractto and the direction of Meridian International Logistics, Inc., would be ofgreat value and benefit to our company and it's shareholders."
While reading these documents, I couldn't help wondering why an "arms"dealer, allegedly tied in with organized crime, wanted to fund the exclusivetraining of physicians at a Japanese medical school?
The Minutes of MIL dated September 20th, 1988, referred to an agreement executedon September 14th, which discussed the threeway, equal ownership between MIL,Dr. Shigeyoshi Fujimoto, and Ajinomoto Co. Inc., of certain patentedbiological technology identified as "a newly devised technology forinduction and activation of cytotoxic Tlymphocytes (Tcells), referred to asCTL, directed to autologous cancer cells in vitro with high efficacy utilizinga serumfree medium."
A Power of Attorney was issued to attorney Fujio Kubota in Japan to file patentsand registrations on the technology entitled "The Method for Inductionand Activation of Cytotoxic TLymphocytes."
The signatories on the Agreement to file Registrations and Patents on September14, 1988 were listed as Dr. Shigeyoshi Fujimoto; Takasha Miyamae (AjinomotoCo., Inc.); Hidetoshi Onogi (representative of MIL); Kanehiro Ishida(International Service Center, Inc.); and Takashi Kumakawa (American Embassy).
Hidetoshi Onogi was granted full power of attorney to negotiate and execute anequity position for Meridian International Logistics related to the filings and"any other documentation pertaining to the technical knowledge and themechanical and/or chemical processes for the production of T Cells as arepresent in the immune system of the human body or any other organism."
In and of itself this transaction seemed innocuous enough. But again I asked myself, why was an international arms dealer on the Board ofF.I.D.C.O (First Intercontinental Development Corporation), a CIAfront corporation, which offered three billion dollars to rebuild Beirut toPresident Amin Gamayel of Lebanon, whose chief of finances (Sami el Khouri) wasshipping tons of heroin to Sicily for reexport to America, want to invest in "amethod for induction and activation of cytotoxic TLymphocytes"?
Was this technology being developed with the authority of the U.S. government,or independently? If Nichols' operations were in fact government sanctioned,then it must have been frustrating for him to be investigated by the FBI. Theconcept of the FBI inadvertently investigating the CIA wasironic. And what had Danny Casolaro learned about thistechnology?
I found a possible answer in an obscure letter written on Wackenhut/Cabazonletterhead, dated January 20, 1983, addressed to Dr. Harry Fair at TacticalTechnology in Arlington, Virginia, from Dr. John P. Nichols, CabazonAdministrator. The letter noted that on February 15th, 1983, Dr. Nichols wouldbe forwarding to Dr. Fair "a unique list of agents and productiontechniques related to biological warfare."
The letter went on to say that the Storemont Laboratories business plan Dr.Nichols mailed to him was to prepare him for what was to be sent in the area ofbiological warfare. Added Dr. Nichols: "[These] productscould be utilized in small countries bordering ALBANIA or large countriesbordering the Soviet Union. You will be amazed at the scope ..." Icould not help recalling the Village Voice article ("The Last Days of DannyCasolaro," October 15, 1991) which had stated, tongue incheek, that "Casolaro had traced the Inslaw and related stories back toa CIA `Old Boy' network that had begun working together inthe 1950's around the ALBANIA covert operations ..."
The hybridoma technology discussed in attached documents (in MichaelRiconosciuto's files), centered around the ability toreorganize and synthesize genetic structures and to modify "lymphocytes"(immune cells).
Under the heading "Possible Military Applications Utilizing HybridomaTechnology" was the notation that "genesplicing technologyprovides the ability to produce pathogenic (harmful) agents, i.e. viruses."
"In fact," noted the writer, "biological warfare weaponry ofthis nature (both production and supply) is limited only by the imagination ofthe scientist."
Included in the above mentioned documents (attached to the Dr. Harry Fairletter), was a proposal to develop monoclonal antibody kits to detect thepresence of such harmful biological agents in a field (combat) environment. Inother words, develop a laboratory created vaccine for a laboratory createdvirus. The very same proposal had been submitted to Peter Zokosky in December1982 by John P. Nichols.
I wondered, was THIS the same technology that Robert Booth Nichols and theDirectors of MIL, including Peter Zokosky, Glen Shockley and Harold Okimoto,were fronting to the Japanese? What kind of "weapon" was this?
Other weapons discussed in the same letter included the Cabazon Arms CA 9 SMGwhich "Peter Zokosky had the British interested in." The CA 9 SMGcould be produced for $75.00 per unit on the reservation and sold for $100 to$125.00. "It meets all the needs of a small, poor democracy for 9MMparabellum," said Nichols.
"They can afford to purchase this one. We have fired over 50,000 roundswith the test model using South Korean ammunition without jamming. We couldbegin manufacturing within two weeks in a country like Guatemala, Chile, etc.,utilizing USA produced dies and Swedish extrusion machinery." ... PeterZokoskyhas fired both the Viper and the CA 9 SMG and was impressed with both, butparticularly with the CA 9 SMG. Kuwait has been particularly interested infinancing the producion of the CA 9 SMG ..."
Dr. Nichols concluded: "We would initially manufacture on the reservation. We can purchase an existing small company with all the licenses tomanufacture and export. [Meridian Arms?] We are ready. We are continuingto experiment with the combination sniper rifle (9MM) equipped with micropressorvision enhancement (no tubes) (night vision). Michael Riconosciutoand some friends of the reservation have been working cooperatively on thisproject. Within another 90 to 120 days we should have a working model touse on the CA 9 SMG and the sniper rifle."
The ongoing projects listed in research and development were a second 9MMcalibre machine pistol, an assault rifle with laser sighting, a longdistancesniper rifle, and a small portable rocket system which could be attached to theassault rifle.
Three months later, on April 13, 1983, Robert Booth Nichols wrote to JosephPreloznik in Madison, Wisconsin, recapitulating exactly the same weaponsproposal as outlined above by Dr. John Nichols to Dr. Harry Fair.
I never found out who Joseph Preloznik was, but Dr. Harry Fair's name popped upin a Wackenhut InterOffice Memorandum in Michael's files. Dated May 25, 1981,from Robert Frye, a Vice President of Wackenhut in Indio, to Robert Chasen,a Vice President of Wackenhut in Coral Gables (and former Commissioner ofU.S. Customs) the memorandum detailed a May 1213 visit to Dr. Harry Fair,Chief of Propulsion Technology, Applied Sciences Division and others at PickitinnyArsenal in Dover, New Jersey.
The arsenal was listed under the official heading of "U.S. Army ArmamentResearch & Development Command, Large Caliber Weapon Systems Laboratory"or ARRADCOM.
The fivepage memo not only outlined the depth of Wackenhut's commitment andinvolvement at the Cabazon reservation, but it delineated Peter Zokosky'simportance to the projects underway there. One of those projects includedproposed construction of an "R & D" (Research and Development)facility on the Cabazon Indian reservation for the manufacture of 120 mm.combustible cartridge cases for sale to the U.S. Army, with sales also to NATO,and especially to the Federal Republic of Germany which at that time, wasadopting the use of such cases in their Leopard tanks.
Wrote Frye: "The obvious key to any such endeavor is [Peter] Zokosky. He is reportedly one of only 67 personnel in the world who have had anysignificant experience in the development and manufacture of the slurry processinvolved in combustible cartridge cases. He is under present noncompeteagreement with Armtec, his former company, until August 1981. Armtec is thepresent sole source supplier of 120 mm. combustible cartridge cases to the U.S.Government. Zokosky is also serving as a consultant to the British Government..."
It is noteworthy that the Cabazon Indians had enlisted the aid of other Indiantribes to join in their endeavor. Use of adjacent tribal lands as a locationfor a large caliber weapons range test site was obtained from a sister tribe,the Torres Martinez, involving some 30,000 acres of very remote and desolateland near the Salton Sea.Potential use of a test firing range for the "railgun"on the Santa Rosa Mountain, under the control of the Santa Rosa Indians, hadalso been pledged to the Cabazons and the U.S. Government.
A notation was included in the lengthy memorandum to "firm up the dealbetween the Joint Venture and John Vanderwerker, President of IntersectCorporation, [in] Irvine, California," who had the exclusive rights forforeign marketing with the Litton Electron Tube Division in third worldcountries.
Mention of John Vanderwerker in the Wackenhut memorandum was singularlyimportant in my investigative leap from overt arms operations to "covert"intelligence operations.
According to Peter Zokosky, Vanderwerker was on the CIApayroll. In Riconosciuto's files, I located a letterdated April 11, 1983, written to Vanderwerker at Intersect Corporation fromGlenn Shockley, a Board Director of both F.I.D.C.O. (First IntercontinentalDevelopment Corporation) and MIL (MeridianInternational Logistics), under investigation for organized crimeactivities. Robert Booth Nichols was also on the Board of both corporations.
The Octopus trail gets a little complicated here, but it is a significant trail. Both Vanderwerker and Shockley were on the CIA payroll. Documents to that effect will be noted in future pages. In the aforementionedletter,Shockley was offering to Vanderwerker fortytwo AH1S CobraHelicopters at a unit price of seven million eight hundred thousand U.S.dollars each.
The rest of the letter read as follows: (Note a few words had been damagedwhile xeroxing) "The price offered is F.A.S. location at Seller's optionEurope. The price is net to Buyer possessing the proper documentation and doesnot include any government considerations (taxes), if any, all of which(indecipherable) to the Buyer's account.
"For verification of the existence of these products, you are requested torefer to telex transmission occuring during the Spring of 1981 between UnionBank Suisse of Zurich, Switzerland, and Omega Industries of Long Island, NewYork. The transmissions were addressed to Mr. Parvis Lavi at Omega and weresigned by Mr. N.A. (indecipherable) bank officer. Your immediate response tothis offer would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Glenn. R. Shockley."
Attached to this letter was a handwritten memorandum, obviously taken from theabove referenced "telex" transmission. The memo delineated theprocedure for "airframe I.D. number acquisition." The buyer's bankofficer was instructed to telephone Seller's bank officer at 8:00 a.m. Tuesdaymorning to relay the following Seller's bank data: "Bank CreditSuisse, Geneva. Officer Mr. Eucomun. Telephone number 0114122365380.Account Number 02746590 54821 Reference Code J.H."
If the connection was missed, then it was to be repeated Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. $10 million U.S. dollars was to be exchanged at the bank for [a] Frame I.D. No.on Wednesday. If all was ready to proceed in Geneva in 5 banking days, then the$10 million would be credited to the buyer's account toward acquisition of allcraft. If not, then $10 million was to be forfeited.
The bank officer's followup monologue as noted on the memorandum read asfollows: "Acting on behalf of our client, I confirm that he has ondeposit the sum of $10 million U.S.D. Upon receipt of one airframeidentification number, the price of one craft will be set aside irrevocably foryour client. If our client does not present to you within 5 banking days in Geneva, Switzerland, all necessary data, documents and fund commitments, he hasagreed to forfeit the price of one craft to your client's account."
Also attached to these documents, was a sheet of handwritten notes obviouslyrelated to the above transaction. The names of various banks and theirlocations, along with the name of a bank officer, notations about metrictons of gold, and a code name, "Messenger Boy," were crypticallyscrawled on the sheet.
I inquired of Michael Riconosciuto what the story was on thesale of the Cobra helicopters? Riconosciuto briefly related the followingstory. The fortytwo Cobra helicopters had been ordered by/for NATO, then afterthe helicopters were built, the funding was not available. Nichols andGlenn Shockley, working for the CIA, were contracted to "getrid of the helicopters." John Vanderwerker was brought into theoperation and the helicopters were shipped to a warehouse in Europe,destined for North Korea, then Iraq.
It is important to note here that North Korea was a conduit for arms to Iraqfrom both the United States and the Soviet Union. In essence, the United States was forced to "compete" with theSoviets in providing arms to Iraq.
This is discussed in further chapters, but in summary, what it all boiled downto was Oliver North supplied arms to Iran. The CIA supplied arms toIraq. And Wackenhut supplied arms to the Contras. All under the authority andsupervision of the U.S. Government.
I asked Michael Riconosciuto if Danny Casolarohad knowledge of the "helicopter" deal? Michael responded, "Igave him the names of the people that were involved and Danny went out andconfirmed it."
I asked him to elaborate. "Well, Danny went and talked to Roy Furmarc(phonetic sp.), William Casey's exright hand man, and Furmarc admitted that hehad contact with them [the helicopters]. And when the NATO stuff disappeared,Bob [Nichols] disappeared with it. They weren't going to pay Bob and hisaccomplices what they wanted, per the original deal, and Bob got angry and justwalked away with it all. But Bob got help from some people in the WhiteHouse, and they cut a certain group of guys in the agency [CIA]out."
I asked, "Who was involved with the helicopter sale besides Nichols?"
"Well, Glen Shockley, Parvis Lavi (phonetic sp.), he's an Iranian,but he worked with the Israeli (indecipherable word) Mission out of New York ..."
Riconosciuto paused, remembering, then continued with hisstory: " ... I brought in Stan Singer, former deputy Israeli DefenseMinister, to try and take all those helicopters off everybody's hands. I wouldhave made a nice, tidy sum of money for myself ..."
"Who were the helicopters originally destined for?"
Mike: "NATO. During the Carter administration, there was a slip up on somefunding, they were really screwy in the way they handled certain things ..."
"Was this some kind of an undercover operation?"
Mike: "It was on the up and up, regular deliveries from the United Statesto NATO, but there was some kind of a misunderstanding between the upper reachesof the Carter Administration and some of the other NATO countries, so while theywere having highlevel discussions, no financial instruments exchanged hands.
"They finally came to terms on the financial end of it, but by that timethe stuff [helicopters] had been removed from the loading docks and warehouses."
"So, they were gone?"
Mike: "They were gone."
"To North Korea?"
Mike: "Into storage in Europe. Later they got sold to North Korea, andother places. It was hotter than hell ..."
"Where in Europe, do you know?"
Mike: "Well, I don't want to go into it on the phone [from jail], but Iknow the whole story behind it. While it was in storage, everbody and theirbrother was trying to buy the stuff and the price got jacked way up. Casey'sfaction and Carlucci and those guys, they wanted it all, wanted to screw Bob andhis guys, and Bob made an alliance with somebody else for the stuff ..." "Who?"
"Well, later with Mike McManus in the White House." (McManuswas assistant to President Reagan, and on the Board of Directors of F.I.D.C.O.with Nichols).
"Why did they call upon Nichols to do this? What was his connection?"
Mike: "Bob had been doing errands for them for years ..."
"Who in particular?"
Mike: "Bob was working under Larry Kern basically. And Ellen's father[Nichols' wife] was somewhere in there ..."
"Was he working for the NSC at that time?"
Mike: "Just the CIA. He was just doing contracttype work. He was good at what he did. Whatever objectives were given tohim, Bob always achieved them. You know, he has an impeccable track record ..."
In a subsequent interview with Robert Booth Nichols, I asked him about thehelicopter deal. Nichols confirmed that he had, indeed, participated in theshipment of the helicopters to Europe through the CIA.
In news interviews, Wackenhut had denied association with Michael Riconosciuto,yet in Michael's files, I found a letter written on Meridian Arms letterhead,dated February 10, 1984, from Robert Booth Nichols to Dr. Harry Fair referringto the Wackenhut visit to Pickitinny Arsenal in May, 1981. Nichols remindedDr. Fair of the demonstration at Pickitinny in which "Michael Riconosciuto[had] discussed electrostatic heat transfer augmentation in a wide range ofapplications ... and demonstrated control of heat in electric discharge."
This letter was significant in that it confirmed that RiconosciutoHAD in fact accompanied Peter Zokosky and Robert Frye, Vice President ofWackenhut, to the Pickitinny Arsenal to demonstrate the above mentionedtechnology.
The crux of the Wackenut involvement in arms development and shipments throughvarious sources, including Peter Zokosky, Robert Booth Nichols, JohnVanderwerker, and others, was tied irrevocably to the Reagan administration'sefforts to aid the Nicaraguan Contras.
A Special Operations Report emanating from the Riverside, California,District Attorney's office which was sent to John Cohen, investigator for theHouse Judiciary Committee on Inslaw, provided indisputable proof that Wackenhutsold arms to the Contras.
The Special Operations Intelligence Report entitled, "Nicaraguans and EarlBrian at Lake Cahuilla 9/10/81" described a meeting held between twogroups, the Nicaraguans and Wackenhut/Cabazon officials, at a countyowned policefiring range at Lake Cahuilla in Riverside County.
According to the surveillance report, the purpose of the meeting was "totest a new night vision device and weapons. All [the] weapons tested weresemiautomatic. [A} new sniper rifle tested was a 50 caliber with a 308 bullet."
The report went on to note that "some automatic weapons were present, butall had necessary permits through Meridian Arms. Meridian Arms [is]owned by Michael Riconosciuto, Robert Booth Nichols (norelation to John Phillip Nichols), andDon Oliver former Undersheriff of San Diego County. Meeting andtesting took about one hour, then all parties left."
Police officers had been placed around the surrounding area in asurveillance/protection type mode. Each of the six Indio police officersparticipating in the range surveillance were named individually in the report.
The license plate numbers of each car that arrived on the scene was included inthe Report along with the names and identification of everyone who attended thedemonstration. Some of those names and I.D.'s were:
"Michael Riconosciuto Researcher for Cabazon Indians."
"Peter Zokosky President of Armtech Coachella."
"John D. Vanderwerker and a couple of his friends Vanderwerker, CIA Research Director for CIA [for] 8 years."
"Earl Brian Wisconsin businessman and CIA employee."
"Two Nicaraguan Generals Eden Pastora, Commander Zero and JoseCurdel, Commander Alpha."
"Raul Arana Central Caribbean research procurement front for liberationof Nicaragua (PreContra days)."
"John Phillip Nichols Cabazon Indian Manager."
"Wayne Reeder Builder/Developer""Jimmy Hughes Security Chief Cabazon Indians"
"Art Welmas Tribal Chairman of Cabazon Indians."
"Scott Wesley United States Army."
"Honduran Telephone Company Military connection network in SouthernHemisphere." And others.
The surveillance report indicated that Wayne Reeder and Earl Brian arrivedtogether in a 1981 White Rolls Royce, License Plate Number OK 2XG2302. The twoNicaraguan Generals arrived in a 1981 Honda, License Plate Number AZ AFM877.
A newspaper article in the Los Angeles Times, dated May 16, 1991, entitled, "NoriegaPapers Claim CIASent Him Millions," by Mike Clary, reported that General ManualNoriega, Panama's former strongman leader, was paid more than $11 millionfrom a CIA slush fund. A 107page Noriega defense document contended thatNoriega once warned the CIA to put an end to cocaine shipments to the UnitedStates that were being used to raise funds for the Contras in Nicaragua.
Noriega, who was scheduled to go on trial for drug smuggling on July 22, maintainedthat planes carrying arms to Nicaraguan rebels returned to the United Statesloaded with illegal drugs. It was clearly a guns for drugs policy, he said.
The article concluded that "Noriega served as a conduit for cashpayments from the CIA to onetime antiSandinista leader EDENPASTORA."
So, in 1981, Eden Pastora attended the Wackenhut nightvision gogglesdemonstration in Indio with numerous CIAemployees in attendance, and ten years later, the L.A. Times reported thatPastora was a recipient of cash payments, via Noriega, from the CIA.
I believe it is safe to theorize at this point that the various tentacles of theOctopus heretofore outlined were used to develop and ship arms to variouscountries such as Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, and other thirdworld countries in exchange for cocaine and heroin. These countries certainlydidn't have the funds to pay with cash. And it is possible that The Company wasin fact the mechanism used to distribute the drugs after entry into the UnitedStates.
The reader may be wondering how I obtained a copy of the abovementioned "SpecialOperations [surveillance] Report." I had requested a copy of it from boththe Riverside District Attorney's office and John Cohen, investigator for theHouse Judiciary Committee on Inslaw, but the report was confidential and neitherwould send me a copy.
I then called Peter Zokosky and asked him to corroborate the report's existence. He not only corroborated it, but he offered to send me a copy. When I askedhow HE had obtained a copy, he said, "I asked a friend in Washington D.C.to go into the [House Judiciary] vault and make a copy for me."
I received a copy shortly thereafter from Peter Zokosky. When I called JohnCohen and mentioned I'd obtained a copy, he said he was aware that "someone"had gotten past the guards and into the House vault. He didn't know what hadbeen taken, but he validated the document in my possession.
Michael Riconosciuto had some, if not all, of the answers tothe gene splicing technology that Zokosky and Wackenhut had attempted to sell tothe Army weapons division in 1983, and later fronted to the Japanese, throughMeridian International Logisitcs, in 1988.
I felt that time was of the essence in uncovering the nature of this technology,so I pushed Riconosciuto to talk about it. "It lookslike Earl Brian, Sir Denis Kendall, Hercules Research, Wackenut, Zokosky and BobNichols were all involved in the same biotechnological agenda ..."
Michael answered, "You got it."
I asked, "Are they connected, or are they all individually working on theirown projects?"
Michael: "Check out Bio-Rad Laboratories. Their internationalheadquarters are on half of the property that used to be the Hercules plant, inHercules, California. Do you understand what I'm saying? BioRad makes the mosttoxic biological and radioactive compounds known to man. And they're nowlocated in the town of Hercules. BioRad Industrial Park. That building oftheirs, the headquarters, doesn't look like much, but it goes 20 stories downinto the ground. It's a huge underground complex.
"See, BioRad was the flagship company, and then they [Earl Brian] startedInfoTech, and then they got mired in lawsuits and then Hadron was formed to be acutout parent corporation, you know, just to be a firewall from law suits ..."
I asked, "What do they do at BioRad?"
"Well, they make the most hazardous biological and nuclear chemicals in theworld, for medical research."
"Who do they sell it to?"
"Well, front line researchers all over the world. BioRad is the singlesource for this stuff ... actually Aldrich Chemical sells it, there's about 100companies, but BioRad is head and shoulder above all of them by a factor of tenon many things like Cytotoxins."
I remembered reading about Cytotoxins in the Wackenhut/Cabazon biologicalwarfare letters to Dr. Harry Fair.
Michael continued ... "You look at Cytotoxic TLymphocytes. You go ask anymedical professional what they're doing on the leading edge of research there? What the full implications to humanity are, OK?"
I wanted clarification from Michael, so I answered, "It looks to me likeresearch on a cure for cancer."
Michael took the bait. "Go ask a professional. I'd rather have you hearit from a collateral source other than from me."
"Well, give me some indication ..."
Michael responded hesitantly, "It would have been Hitler's wet dream. It's selective to such a degree that it's awesome. With the appropriate geneticmaterial, you can wipe out whole segments of humanity. There's no stopping it."
"I asked, "You mean you could selectively wipe out certain races ofpeople?"
Mike continued ..."And, also, from the beneficial side, you can veryspecifically wipe out disease cells, cancer cells. Look at the patents. Lookat Immunix (phonetic sp.) Corporation, look at the patent portfolios on BioRad."
"Who's BioRad's main buyer?"
"Well, the National Institute of Health, you know, every hospital in theworld buys BioRad products."
I had read about Sir Denis Kendall, the famous M16 British intelligence officerduring World War II, in "Who's Who in America," 1989 issue. Kendallhad worked with Michael in some, as yet, undefined capacity. Bobby Riconosciutohad noted to me that Kendall and Ted Gunderson had counseled Oliver North priorto his testimony to Congress. Kendall was also heavily involved in arms andbiotechnology, according to Michael Riconosciuto.
"Who's Who" described Denis William Kendall as a "medicalelectronic equipment company executive," born in Halifax, Yorkshire,England on May 27, 1903. Kendall came to the United States in 1923, wasnaturalized in 1957. His background included being a consultant to the Pentagonon high velocity small arms from 1940 to 1945. He was listed on Churchill's WarCabinet Gun Board from 194145. He was later executive vice president ofBrunswick Ordnance Plant in New Jersey from 1952 to 1956. From 1961 to 1973,became president of Dynapower Medonics in Los Angeles, and chief executive ofKendall Medical International, Inc. in Los Angeles in 1973.
In 1983, the same year that Wackenhut was offering biological warfare agents tothe Army, Sir Denis Kendall was the chairman of Steron Products, Inc. His clubmembership listings indicated he was a 32 degree Shriner in the PacificPalisades (California) Masons and a member of the Religious Society of Friends(Quaker), amongst other things.
I asked Riconosciuto, "What was Sir Denis Kendall'sconnection ...?"
Michael broke in ..."He's involved in all of it. You might be able to geta handle on Kendall through Tiny Roland, a subsidiary of which is Penguin Books. And the other goodoleboy in the nail work is Octav Botnar. Then there'sWolfgang Fosog (phonetic sp.), Renee Hanner, Count Otto Linkee (phonetic sp.)..."
"How did you meet these guys?"
"I was introduced through Joe Snell and Norman Davis. Snell was consideredthe father of industrial design. He was an industrial design artist who did thelogos for Coca Cola, Chanel No. 5, Life Magazine. Norm Davis owned(unintelligble) brewery until he sold to Carling. My dad was his advertisingand public relations man. My dad didn't know Kendall personally, but Norm Davisdid. I met Kendall through Davis."
"Do you know what Kendall is into currently?"
"What would that be?"
"There's a pharmaceutical company in Los Angeles. There's a medicalelectronics company ... Ted Shannon in Los Angeles supervises all the productionfor that stuff. It's very exotic, far out stuff. And he's still in acontrolling position in Brunswick [Ordnance] Corporation."
I asked Riconosciuto, "How close was BioRad to yourfather's plant, Hercules?"
Mike answered, "It's on the same property!"
"Mike, when you were conducting research at Hercules, you were incubatingsomething in fish tanks there. What was it?"
Michael's response had a nervous edge to it. "Where ... where are yougetting this?"
Riconosciuto was unaware at that point that his hidden fileswere in my possession. "I'm just thumbing through some old documents ..."
" ... Those documents aren't supposed to exist any more. They've all beendestroyed."
"Well, it was a matter of routine, you know ... they COULDN'T exist ...""
"That's what they're doing with all this stock manipulation, you know. Thebiologicals are what got them in the door at such a high level in Japan ..."
I sensed Riconosciuto's possible involvement in the project,his reluctance to discuss it. But he believed I had "all" the recordsand he stammered on. " ... That paperwork trail shouldn't exist. I meanit was kept in a safe place, and then it was shredded. And the only people thathad any direct knowledge of it was [Peter] Zokosky and Earl Barber, JohnNichols, Bob Nichols, you know, those people ..."
Michael was attempting to disengage himself from any responsibility for theresearch.
" ... If there are any records left, those are their records, not any ofours [at Hercules], because I'm sure all of ours were destroyed."
I asked, "Why did you destroy them?"
"Well, do you understand the nature of this technology? You're talking invague, general terms."
I answered, "I have an idea ..."
Michael interjected, " ... Horrible things. You know, it makes what theNazi's did to the Jews look mild. The Romanian Project, do your homework onthat project, you know it's a horrible germ warfare project ..."
" ... And the Soviets were involved in it, and we countered it with our ownmethods."
I noted to Michael that Bill Turner, the man who had met Danny Casolaroin the parking lot of the Sheraton Martinsburg Inn (with Hughes Aircraftdocuments) on the day before his death, was currently in jail. Turner hadwritten a letter in which he talked about an Iraqi from the Iraqi Embassy whowas facilitating the transportation of biological warfare items to Iraq.
Michael responded, "Listen, Saddam Hussein introduced chemical andbiological warfare agents to all his top military leaders. And he becameenamored with this technology. He's been on a binge of sorts. Even when he wasin the secret police of Iraq, he used chemical means on a wide scale ..."
I asked, "But none of these various entities that I've just named weredealing directly with Iraq, were they?"
"No, no. Not directly. All they needed was a VENDORS LIST."
Riconosciuto noted that the shipments were all ITAR(International Trafficking of Armaments) regulated chemicals, electronics,communications equipment, anything that was on the ITAR list.
In August, 1991, the Financial Post ran a story on Dr. Earl Brian. At thattime, Brian's main company, Infotechnology Inc. of New York was bankrupt, andits subsidiary United Press International (UPI) was on the verge of collapse.
According to the Financial Post, the Securities and Exchange Commission and theFBI were investigating Brian, and a flurry of affidavits filed in the InslawInc. scandal accused him of selling bootleg copies of the computer company'scasetracking software (PROMIS) to the intelligence services of Canada, Israel,and Iraq.
Brian was referred to as "Cash" in the intelligence community andreportedly had a close relationship with the CIA. He was a highlydecorated combat surgeon in the Vietnam war in the late 1960's, allegedlyworking in the controversial Phoenix Program. This, according to a 1993 "Wired,"premier issue, entitled "INSLAW, The Inslaw Octopus" by Richard L.Fricker. Wrote Fricker, "After a stint in Vietnam, where he [Brian] workedas a combat physician in the unit that supplied air support for OperationPhoenix, Brian returned to California ..."
In 1970, Ronald Reagan appointed Brian director of the California Department ofHealth Care Services. He was only 27 and destined to remain a part of Reagan'sinner sanctum. U.S. and Israeli intelligence sources linked Brian's name to thesale of weapons to Iran in the 1980's. "He was serving U.S. intelligencepeople, " said Ari BenMenashe, a former Israeli intelligence officer whoclaims he met Brian several times, once in Tel Aviv. Brian allegedly had moreto do with the financial end of the transactions.
Other publications listed Brian's holdings in the rapidly developingbiotechnology field. The hightech empire of Dr. Brian was a grab bag offledgling companies involved in all the hot areas lasers, cancer detectionkits, bloodtesting products, genetic engineering, computer programs,telecommunications and investment databases.
One of Brian's companies, Hadron, Inc. of Fairfax, Virginia, which,incidentally, both Michael Riconosciuto and Robert Nicholsmaintained Peter Viedenieks was involved in, was a laser manufacturer andcomputer services company.
According to Bill Hamilton, president of Inslaw, Hadron had attempted to buyInslaw in 1983. Dominic Laiti, Hadron's chairman at the time, had phonedHamilton out of the blue and said Hadron intended to become a dominant vendor ofsoftware to law enforcement agencies. Would Hamilton like to sell? Hamiltondemurred. "We have ways of making you sell," Laiti is said to havereplied.
Laiti, in an interview in 1988 with the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations,said he didn't remember calling Hamilton. Nevertheless, Hamilton said hebelieves his rejection of Hadron on that day in 1983 triggered an attempt by theDepartment of Justice to put Inslaw out of business, or at least bankrupt thesmall, Washingtonbased software maker.
At that time, Peter Viedenieks was the administrator of the contract betweenInslaw and the DOJ. Within a few months of Hadron's call, the Department ofJustice, citing contract violations, stopped making payments on Inslaw's $10million deal to install PROMIS software in its 20 largest U.S. attorney'soffices nationwide. (PROMIS stands for Prosecutor's Management InformationSystem.)
Inslaw, starved of cash, was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in1985. Hamilton sued the DOJ for theft of property in 1986.
In February 1988, Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge George Bason ordered the DOJ topay Inslaw $7 million in licensing and legal fees. The DOJ, Bason ruled, had "stolenPROMIS from Inslaw through trickery, fraud and deceit," then tried to putthe company out of business.
The DOJ appealed Bason's ruling, but it was upheld. However in May, the U.SCourt of Appeals reversed the decision on a technicality. Hamilton believed Dr.Brian and his old crony, former Attorney General Edwin Meese, were behind theattempt to bankrupt and liquidate Inslaw. When Inslaw refused to sell toHadron, Hamilton believed the DOJ tried to bankrupt and liquidate Inslaw toforce the sale of its assets, perhaps to Hadron, at firesale prices.
Several journalistic publications accused Dr. Brian of profiting from theJustice Department's theft of the PROMIS software. According to a number ofsources, Brian traveled the world during the mideighties, selling the datamanagement program to intelligence and law enforcement agencies the world over.
Brian's role, if any, in the October Surprise was less well publicized. Theprimary source thus far for the allegations that Brian was involved, is formerIsraeli intelligence officer Ari BenMenashe. Menashe alleged that Earl Brianhelped make one of the first contacts between Republicans and the government ofIran in 1980. BenMenashe claimed Brian accompanied Robert C. "Bud"McFarlane to Tehran in late February 1980. The trip came shortly after the NewHampshire primary, when insiders knew that there would be a ReaganBush ticket.
Earl Brian and McFarlane, then an aide to Senator John Tower (RTX), allegedlycontacted Iranians with whom Brian had conducted business prior to the fall ofthe Shah. According to BenMenashe, one of these was Mehdi Bazargan, onetimePrime Minister, and in February 1980 still closely connected to the Iranianleadership.
An old 1975 Sacramento Bee newspaper article, dated January 12, 1975, reportedthat Earl Brian, called the Genius Doctor by his friends, was out to get alittle "of that Middle Eastern oil money." The article went on tosay that Brian was "helping to write a proposal on health care for Iran."
Brian, then at the University of Southern California, was working with SamuelTibbetts of the California Lutheran Hospital Association, which in turn wasworking with a Chicago group. The Chicago group was not named and details ofthe proposal were not known. It is significant that Brian left his post one yearbefore this proposal was written, in 1974, as Governor Ronald Reagan's Healthand Welfare secretary. It was not known whether the contract with the Iraniangovernment was ever consumated.
Another interesting facet of Brian's background included his relationship withSenator Terry Sanford (DN.C.). Prior to his election, Sanford had been theattorney representing Earl Brian in his 1985 takeover bid for United PressInternational (UPI). Sanford was also instrumental in winning Brian anappointment to the board of Duke University Medical School. At that time,Sanford was the president of Duke University.
Dr. Brian ultimately directed his energies towards biological technology. Another of his companies, Biotech Capital Corporation of New York, became 50%owner of American Cytogenetics, which was planning in 1982 to create asubsidiary to engage in genetic research. One notable investor in Biotech,when it went public in 1981, was Edwin Meese. Today, AmericanCytogenetics in North Hollywood, California, conducts Pap tests for cervicalcancer. It also tests tissue samples for cancer and related diseases. Sales in1985 were $3.4 million.
Hadron, of which Dr. Brian was a director, provided engineering and computerconsulting services, along with telecommunications products. Sales were $25.7million in 1985. Clinical Sciences, Inc. sells biochemical products used fordiagnostic tests and antibody analysis. Dr. Brian was also a director of thiscompany. Sales in 1986 were about $4 million.
Michael Riconosciuto had stated that he believed Earl Brianheld a financial interest in Bio-Rad Laboratories in Hercules, California. Iwas unable to locate Brian's name in Board directories, but obtained somedocuments on an OEM agreement between California Integrated Diagnostics, Inc., awholly owned subsidiary of the InFerGene Company, ("Manufacturer") aDelaware corporation, and BioRad Laboratories, Inc. ("Customer") aDelaware corporation, which listed the terms under which the manufactuer wouldprovide the customer with various products.
Various exhibits outlined the product price list, delivery schedules,engineering specifications, etc. What made this agreement significant was anewspaper article published in the San Francisco Chronicle on May 31, 1991,entitled, "S.F. Firm Faces Toxics Charges." A criminal complaint hadbeen filed against a law firm, an investment banking house and several lawyersand financiers involved with InFerGene Company for abandoning its toxic wastesafter filing for bankruptcy.
According to an affidavit filed by the Solano County District Attorney's officeat the Fairfield Municipal Court, after InFerGene was evicted from the premises,a county inspector found several hundred containers including petri dishes andvials marked "chlamydia, herpes, and HSV2." Many others contained "bacteriaof unknown etiology."
A Vacaville newspaper reported that on December 7, an environmental healthinspector found 36 55gallon drums of radioactive Butanol containing "beefmucosa." They were improperly stored and lacked labels showing content,hazard warning or the owner's business address. A followup report made by theenvironmental health office noted that a Halloween 1990 investigation into asmell was traced to a door with a radiation warning on it. The department hadrecommended that the lab doors be sealed and the pipe opening sealed.
In all, the county Environmental Health Department had responded four times tocomplaints about smells from the InFerGene labs in the Benicia Industrial Parkwell before it shut down in February. One complaint listed persistent smellscausing nausea, a problem also cited by others still working in the area.
Founded in 1983, InFerGene specialized in DNA technology, making diagnostictest kits for AIDS, hepatitis and other diseases.
My research led me to another article on Bay Area bio-labs. In June, 1991, theSan Francisco Examiner published a story entitled, "Germ War Lab AlarmsBerkeley" which noted the community of West Berkeley "was home tothe Defense Department's one and only supplier of antiplague vaccine." On December 28, 1990, four maintenance men made an unauthorized entranceinto a room at Cutter Biological which housed Yersinia pestis, commonly known as"The Black Plague," which once killed a quarter of the population ofEurope 650 years ago.
There was no harm to the workers and no release of the live bacteria, but if anaccident had occurred, all of Berkeley would have been wiped out.
It is impossible NOT to compare the two incidents in the San Francisco bay areawith the Wackenhut proposal to develop biological warfare viruses on the CabazonIndian reservation in Indio, California. In order to develop vaccines, whichsounds innocuous enough, the virus must first be created. In the case ofbiological warfare viruses, the disease would have to be highly sophisticatedindeed, if it were to be used in military applications. Certainly nothing thatwould be easily recognizable, if it escaped the laboratory, to a layman medicaldoctor in Indio, California, or for that matter at any Indian reservation in theUnited States.
Any type of biological research on an Indian reservation would not be subject toscrutiny by the federal government because Indian reservations are sovereignnations. Nevertheless, if a virus DID escape a secret government installationat an Indian reservation, the reservation would provide an ideally "isolatedenvironment" for further study (by a government entity) of affectedsubjects or victims under quarantine. Not a very pretty picture. Yet this wasthe exact nature of the proposal by Wackenhut to Dr. Harry Fair of the Armyweapons division.
For the first time, I began to notice various "mysterious" illnessescropping up in the media. I'm sure there have been unidentified diseasesthroughout history, but for the first time, I was conscious of what was writtenabout them.
The first to capture my attention was the sudden deaths of twelve Navajo Indiansin New Mexico and Arizona. A June 3, 1993, Department of Health Servicesinteroffice memorandum distributed to public health laboratory directorsthroughout California labeled the virus a "Mystery Illness in New Mexicoand Arizona." The memo asked, "Is it in California too?"
On June 2, 1993, New Mexico officials had reported a total of 19 cases,summarized as follows: Of the 19 cases, 12 were Native American Indians. Twelve died. All of the victims were residents within a 100 mile area innorthwest New Mexico and Northeast Arizona. The symptoms included fulminantrespiratory distress which killed within hours. There was "NO IDENTIFIABLECAUSE." This was printed in capital letters.
Under "Etiology" (origin), the memorandum noted, "[The illness]remains a mystery despite extensive testing at University of New MexicoHospital, New Mexico Department of Health, and CDC. If etiology were plague,anthrax, tularemia, some cases should have been identified by cultures/stains..."
Oddly, nationwide media printed stories stating that the illnesses were causedby rat droppings, yet the actual documents from the Department of HealthServices in Berkeley, California, confidentially given to me by a laboratorydirector in June 1993, mentioned nothing about rat droppings.
I later read about a mystery illness in TIME magazine, November 22, 1993 issueentitled, "The Gulf Gas Mystery," which reported that American troopsin the Persian Gulf, upon returning home, were complaining of chronic diarrhea,aches in all the joints, and difficulty breathing. Several veterans and theirfamilies testified before a congressional committee that the Defense Departmenthad ignored their complaints, and the Veterans Affairs Department downplayed theaffair. The veterans themselves were convinced they had been exposed to "diseasecausingchemical agents" while in the Persian Gulf. Eightthousand veteransregistered their symptoms with the U.S. government, thus labeling the disease "GulfWar Syndrome" (GWS).
Ultimately, the disease was determined by Major General Ronald Blanck, commanderof the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, to be "multiple chemicalsensitivity," syndrome. A board of inquiry was created headed by JoshuaLederberg of Rockefeller University, a Nobelprizewinning expert on rare andemerging diseases. But, noted TIME, "It is up to the Pentagon to bridgethe credibility gap that seems to have sprouted over the strange new syndrome." It was not until 1996 that the Pentagon admitted GWS may have been caused byexposure to bombed chemical/biological plants in Iraq.
By far the most provocative incident occurred in February, 1994. TheSpokesmanReview, out of Spokane, Washington, printed a story on August 9, 1994,entitled, "Victim of Mysterious Fumes Seeks Investigative Reports." In Riverside, California,the county in which the Cabazon Indian/Wackenhut facility is located,Dr. Julie Gorchynski, an emergency room doctor, was overcome by mysterious fumeswhile examining a woman who later died.
"This is a bona fide, genuine medical mystery, and we intend to solve it,"said Russell S. Kussman, attorney for Dr. Gorchynski. Gorchynski suffered fromosteonecrosis, avascular necrosis of bone, posttraumatic stress disorder,shortness of breath, restrictive lung disease and other ailments, as a result ofexposure to the dying cancer patient on February 19th. Coincidentally, hersymptoms matched those of GWS.
Later, in the same newspaper, dated September 3, 1994, another article emergedregarding the Riverside mishap. The bizarre episode had sent six emergency roomworkers to hospitals after being exposed to fumes emitting from patient GloriaRamirez's blood samples drawn on February 19, 1994.
According to the state's 15page report, 11 people reported smelling an unusualodor after blood was drawn from Ramirez. After five collapsed and the emergencyroom was evacuated, 23 people complained of at least one symptom, most commonlyheadache, dizziness, and nausea. More serious complaints included muscle spasmsand breathing disruptions. "Despite extensive epidemiologic, toxicologicand environmental investigations, the cause of the outbreak of symptoms amongemergency room staff members ... remains unknown," the report concluded.
Dr. Gorchynski's lawyer stated that it could only be a toxin. "It'sphysically impossible for Julie to have had the symptoms, and not just thesymptoms, the laboratory findings and test results that showed ... clearly Dr.Gorchynski was poisoned that day."
But epidemiology experts could find no culprit to explain the bizarre episode. The Department of Health Services ultimately described the incident as anoutbreak of "mass sociogenic illness," perhaps triggered by an odor.
I could not help wondering if the deceased Gloria Ramirez was an Indian, or hadever been on the Cabazon reservation in Indio? I later learned she had beenreceiving experimental cancer treatments at a clinic in Mexico.
J.M., Ted Gunderson's live-in partner, on more than one occasion had noted thatshe held in her possession a photograph of Gunderson and Sir Denis Kendall,the British M-I6 officer who owned bio-labs in Los Angeles, standing in front ofa Mexican cancer clinic. According to J.M., the photo had been used in anadvertisement seeking nurses to work at the clinic. Without a copy of thephoto, I was unable to determine if it "might" be the same clinicwhich Gloria Ramirez attended prior to her death.
In February 1993, I was contacted by a U.S Customs agent who wasconducting an inquiry into the whole Inslaw, Peter Viedenieks, Wackenhut affair. The man had flown in to California from back east to interview Mike and BobbyRiconosciuto and other witnesses associated with the Inslawcase. Someone, whom he would not identify, advised him to contact me.
On February 5th, he and his partner drove to my home in Mariposaand spent the day. I provided him with an affidavit relative to Riconosciuto'sattempted trade into the Witness Protection Program. The affidavitcontained mostly drug-related information on The Company and Robert BoothNichols' connection to Michael Abbell (DOJ) and the Cali Cartel. The agentalso obtained a tape-recorded statement, under oath, relative to my findings andleft with an armload of documents. (Two years later, in 1995, Abbell wasindicted for money laundering for the Cali Cartel and drug related charges).
He called frequently after that (1993), once from a phone booth in the dead ofnight after visiting Langley, Virginia. We subsequently struck up aninvestigative collaboration of sorts. On September 3, 1993, I received acall from him in Palm City, Florida. He had interviewed Robert Chasen, formerExecutive Vice President, Systems and Services Group, of Wackenhut Corporationin Coral Gables. Chasen, 70, was still senior consultant at the Floridafacility, but was allegedly dying of cancer and weighed less than 100 poundsat the time of the interview.
Because he (Chasen) had once been Commissioner of Customs in WashingtonD.C., he felt a rapport with this young agent and spoke candidly about hisexperience with Wackenhut in Indio.
Of significance, was Chasen's confirmation of the horrendous properties of the "virus"which he encountered at the Indio facility. He said, "Wackenhut wasrunning amuck." Robert Nichols and Peter Zokosky had attempted to sell thebiological warfare technology (developed in cow uterises) through Wackenhut,using Robert Frye, Vice President of the Indio facility, as the front man.
According to Chasen, Frye went behind his [Chasen's] back in facilitatingthe project; when Chasen learned of the project, he shut it down. (Chasensupervised the Indio facility from Coral Gables, Florida.) Because of theprojects underway at the Cabazon reservation, Chasen chose not to step footon the property, but instead met with the Indio executives in Palm Springs.
In other respects, Chasen was not so candid. Though the Customs agent saidChasen "said a lot of derogatory things about Wackenhut in Indio," hedid not admit to knowing Peter Viedenieks. The agent's investigation had ledhim to believe that the PROMIS software WAS stolen, and Viedenieks WAS involvedin the theft, but he did not have enough evidence to take his case to court.
Chasen was evasive on the subject of PROMIS, though his background wouldindicate that he must have been knowledgeable about it. He had been a SpecialAgent in the Washington D.C. Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1943 to 1952. From 1952 to 1968, he was Vice President and President, respectively, of ITTCommunications Systems in Chicago, Illinois and Paramus, New Jersey. He becameCommissioner of U.S. Customs in Washington D.C. from 1969 to 1977 the same timespan that Peter Viedenieks was in and out of Customs.
I called Dick Russell (author of "The Man Who Knew Too Much") to actas a "cutout" for me and interview Chasen. At that point, I didn'twant to expose myself to Wackenhut, so Russell agreed. When Russell calledback, he said Chasen didn't trust Robert Booth Nichols. Wackenhut had "runa check" on Nichols and couldn't learn anything about his background. This had bothered Chasen, but, he said, Robert Frye and Dick Wilson were "dazzled"with Nichols.
Chasen believed Nichols worked for the CIA, said hewas a "slippery guy," and couldn't understand why Frye and Wilson weredazzled by Nichols for such a long time. Reportedly, George Wackenhut likedFrye and Dick Wilson, but did not trust Riconosciuto orNichols. Michael Riconosciuto had been introduced to Chasen as a "specialistengineer in weapons."
Chasen acknowledged the biological technology introduced by Nichols and Zokosky,saying it had been presented to him as something that could "createanything from chicken soup to long range missiles." When he learned ofthe properties of the technology, he halted it immediately. When pressed forfurther details, he added reluctantly, "It was the kind of thing your minderases."
Regarding the Cabazons, Chasen said he felt an affinity with Arthur Welmas,Chairman of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, because his [Chasen's] wife ispart Cherokee. He noted that he sympathized with their situation and wanted toprotect them.
Perhaps he protected them more than he realized when he shut down the Wackenhutproposal to the Army to develop biological viruses (and vaccines) on the Cabazonreservation.
One year later, on September 5, 1994, TIME magazine published an article on page63 entitled, "A Deadly Virus Escapes," in which a Yale Universityresearcher was exposed to the deadly Brazilian "Sabia" virus when acontainer spinning on a highspeed centrifuge cracked, causing the potentiallylethal tissue to spatter. Fortunately, the researcher was wearing a lab gown,latex gloves and a mask, as required by federal guidelines.
Every surface of the area was scrubbed with bleach, all instruments weresterilized, then wiped down again with alcohol. Having decided the danger wasover, he didn't bother to report the accident, and a few days later he left townto visit an old friend in Boston. Soon after the researcher returned to Yale,he bagan running a fever that reached 103 F.
An experimental antiviral drug eventually stopped the illness, but the man hadexposed five people, including two children, before being confined to a hospitalisolation ward, and another 75 or so healthcare workers after that.
The Sabia virus is particularly frightening because it kills in such a grislyway. Characteristic symptoms are high fever, uncontrolled bleeding in virtuallyevery organ and finally shock. The liver turns yellow and decomposes. Bloodcan leak from literally every bodily orifice, including the eyes and the poresof the skin. Sabia was never seen before 1990, when a female agriculaturalengineer checked into a hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with a high fever. Within days she was dead.
Fortunately, in the Yale University incident, none of the potential victims diedor showed any evidence of symptoms. A book and movie on the Sabia virus'scounterpart, the lethal Ebola virus from Central Africa, which is as deadly andas gruesome as AIDS, yet has an incubation period of only one week, was underwayat the time and was later released in 1994.
The book, "The Hot Zone," described a victim who contracted Ebola. TIME wrote, "His eyes turn red and his head begins to ache. Red spotsappear on his skin and, spreading quickly, become a rash of tiny blisters, andthen the flesh rips. Blood begins to flow from every one of the body'sorifices. The victim coughs up black vomit, sloughing off parts of his tongue,throat and windpipe. His organs fill with blood and fail. He suffers seizures,splattering virussaturated blood that can infect anyone nearby. Within a fewdays the victim dies, and as the virus destroys his remaining cells, much of histissue actually liquifies ..."
The Ebola virus, found in the rainforest regions of Central Africa, once causedan outbreak in 1976 through villages near the Ebola River in Zaire, killing asmany as 90% of those infected. Such dangerous viruses may seem a distantmenace, wrote TIME, but "The Hot Zone" details a 1989 Ebola crisisthat occurred in the Reston, Virginia Primate Quarantine Unit, run by a companythat imports and sells monkeys for use in research laboratories.
When an unusual number of monkeys originating from the Philippines died, tissuesamples were sent to a U.S. Army research center. There a technician identifiedthe strands as either Ebola Zaire or something very close. Even more alarming,the virus found in Reston, Virginia, unlike the African one, could betransmitted through the air. Frantic phone calls were made to Virginia healthauthorites and to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. An Army team,wearing space suits, went into the Reston building and killed 450 survivingmonkeys, then placed them in plastic bags for safe disposal. Before thebuilding was boarded up, the Army sterilized every square inch of the interior. No humans were infected with the virus, but Richard Preston, the author of "TheHot Zone," wrote, "A tiny change in its genetic code, and it might[have] zoomed through the human race."
A rival 1995 film on the same subject entitled, "Outbreak," directedby Wolfgang Peterson, also focused on the Ebola virus.
It was time to interview Robert Booth Nichols. I was communicating regularlywith Ted Gunderson and one day, on an impulse, I asked him for Nichols'stelephone number. Gunderson hesitated, then gave me the telephone number of a "relative"of Nichols' in Los Angeles, stating that he really couldn't give out Robert'shome number without first consulting him.
I called the relative and left a message for Nichols to return my call. Thecall came back on December 31, 1991. There was an intriguing internationalflavor to Nichols' voice. The tone was hostile but polite, and inquiring. Essentially, Nichols wanted to know why I was communicating with MichaelRiconosciuto?
I explained to him that I was writing a book on government sanctioned drugtrafficking and Michael had information to offer on local corruption. Duringthe conversation, which lasted about 45 minutes, Nichols admitted that he workedfor FIDCO and used the code word "Wa Latteral" for the operation inLebanon.
The following are some excerpts:
CM: "Do you know anything about Michael Riconosciuto inLebanon?"
CM: "He [Michael] talked about an interesting operation in Lebanon."
Nichols: "What was it called, the operation? I've heard of quite a fewprojects in Lebanon. If I've heard of it, I'll tell you."
CM: "Well, what was the code name of the one that you heard about?"
Nichols: "Wa Latteral."
CM: "Wa Latteral? And what type of operation was that?"
Nichols: "Well, it was trading in two directions. Now what'syours?"
CM: "Same thing."
Nichols: "Wa Latteral? Yours is the same name?"
CM: "No. I've never heard that name before."
Nichols: "Well, what was the code word of the one Michael said he wasinvolved in?"
CM: "I would have to go over all of my notes, to tell you the truth. Itdidn't seem important at the time, so I don't have it off the top of my head ..."
Nichols: "What the project was, I can tell you very clearly, there'snothing secret about it now, was to develop an agenda whereby all sides, theMuslim and the Christian sides, would come to an agreement on a redevelopmentproject to where their respective areas would have the same capitalization, andthe same benefit to stop the fighting."
CM: "Did this include rebuilding of the infrastructure of Beirut?"
Nichols: "Very definitely."
CM: "Did this have anything to do with FIDCO?"
Nichols: "Uh, FIDCO was involved in it, right. That was an effortby that company, as I understood it ... the project was to make sure that bothsides developed building programs that were initiated concurrently and thedevelopment was fair and equitable to all sides, to stop the fighting." (Iwondered why an "arms dealer" wanted to stop the fighting in Lebanon?)
CM: "Was there ever any subsidiary of that corporation called Euramae?"
Nichols: "I never heard that name before."
CM: "Ted Gunderson gave me a huge manual on The Octopus ..."
Nichols: "In my opinion, to research anything of that magnitude you arelooking at -- it would require a lot of money and a lot of travel and a lot ofpatience. I don't think Ted Gunderson knows anything, personally. He'sdomestic. It's not his area."
CM: "Did you operate a telex company with him during the Olympic Games?"
Nichols: "Absolutely not. A telex company. Absolutely not. Oh, jeez. Did you ask Ted Gunderson that?"
CM: "Well, no, I didn't ..."
Nichols: "Well, you can't be shy. You have to ask questions, or else howdo you know?"
CM: "What did Danny Casolaro spend so much time on thephone with you for?"
Nichols: "Danny used to ask me different things. But Danny was more intothe names in Paris and Switzerland and -- Danny was investigating the wholeinternational situation. You have to spend a lot of money and do a lot oftraveling. Danny had said to me that he had a whole agenda worked out, youknow, where he was going to go and who he was going to see. And I mean it wasliterally a global trip ..."
Nichols said he believed Danny was murdered and did not commit suicide. Hebelieved Danny's death had to do with the international scene, someone Danny hadcontacted overseas.
I asked him, "Do you suppose his death had anything to do with the JusticeDepartment?"
Nichols answered, "I would say, `Time will tell. Time will tell.'"
I pressed Nichols about his civil suit against FBI agent Thomas Gates:
Nichols: "The activities that I've been involved with, I can tell you veryclearly, an effort was made for many years to benefit a lot of people thatwere involved in the corporation. That effort was destroyed by certainmoves [by agent Gates]. And it caused a great deal of hardship to myself andquite a few other people who are very angry about it. And we'll deal with thatmatter in court."
CM: "What was Gates investigating?"
Nichols said he wrote two stories for some Italian movie producers. "They were `sensitive' stories, about overseas. What I did, was Itook two little, very brief parts of two stories to copyright in the UnitedStates. And so they're very diluted, but enough for the copyrights.
"That's when I met the guy from Universal [studios], because he wanted thestories. And the French wanted the stories ... in 1987, but the stories haven'tchanged, they're still pertinent."
Gates had overheard the "pertinent" parts on the wiretap and initiatedan investigation. I made a mental note to try to convince Nichols at a laterdate to provide me with the manuscripts. But I didn't want to push him duringour first conversation.
I later asked a friend in Washingto D.C. to research Nichols' copyrights at theLibrary of Congress. There were indeed two stories copyrighted by Robert BoothNichols under the pseudonym of R.N. LeDevoilier. Perhaps he was unaware that across-reference would reveal his true identity.
The 20-page manuscript entitled "Acceptable Casualty," essentiallyoutlined gays and I.V. drug users as targets of bio-war by a cabal of militaryintelligence officers. In the story, a secret file, "C-911-Tuhnekaw,"revealed the origin of the first AIDS infection. Field research dated November12, 1977 originated from a Bay Area laboratory destroyed by fire in December1975. Assorted bio-labs were mentioned, one in Palo Alto, California. The heroof the story obtained the secret cure from "the Chosen Ones" andescaped to Singapore with his family.
Interestingly, the names of those involved included "Yutaka Okimoto"and "Lawrence Zokosky," the last names of which match those listed onNichols' "real life" corporation, Meridian International Logistics(MIL).
Nichols also copyrighted a 90-page James Bond type treatment entitled, "Decisionof Conscience," which described state-of-the-art electromagnetic technology(launchers) used to demolish a two-story concrete building. I later found thewords, "Decision of Conscience," written in Danny Casolaro'shandwritten notes also.
Nichols' secret desire to write about his exploits in the CIA had ledhim to contact Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America,through his (then) corporate partner Eugene Giaquinto. The three met at theBeverly Hills Hotel where Nichols attempted to sell Valenti manuscriptsdisclosing top secret CIA technology.
Nichols later said Valenti refused the manuscripts because they contained "classifiednational security information." (Valenti once served as assistant toPresident Lyndon B. Johnson).
During several phone conversations with reporter Jonathan Littman, I learnedthat he had communicated with Danny Casolaro on a regular basisprior to Danny's death. At the time, I wondered why Littman hadn't written astory on Danny, since he was one of the few reporters to have spoken extensivelywith him?
I would have that answer soon enough. My confidence in Littman nearly cost memy life. An incident which I am about to relate forced me to document thefollowing events, which I titled, "Vortex," and subsequentlyturned over to John Cohen, investigator for the House Judiciary Committee onInslaw. Cohen had strenuously advised me to send it to him as he feared for mylife. "Vortex" was also the "affidavit" I supplied to theCustoms Agent who interviewed me in February 1993.
During the course of our conversations, Littman had noted to me that he had aclose relationship with Robert Booth Nichols, Peter Zokosky and Ben Kalka of TheCompany. Littman also verified to me that he was in fact, Kalka's cousin,but he (Littman) was a secretive, noncommunicative individual and I didn't presshim for explanations. Kalka was currently serving time in prison for possessionof 900 pounds of methamphetamine.
Littman did, however, confide that Kalka hated Michael Riconosciutobecause Riconosciuto was responsible for Kalka's imprisonment. I described howformer Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Leighton appeared to have perjured himselfat Michael's trial, and asked Littman's opinion of that. Littman stated simplythat it didn't matter if Leighton had perjured himself, nothing should be doneto get Michael out of jail. There should be no mistrial or acquittal oranything of that nature because Michael was probably guilty of the crime forwhich he was incarcerated. I didn't pursue the matter further at that point.
Meanwhile, Littman offered to arrange an interview with Robert Booth Nichols andPeter Zokosky for me. In exchange for this, he wanted me to arrange aninterview with Tony Patterson and Raymond Lavas (Ted Gunderson's formerforensics expert) through Bobby Riconosciuto. Tony Pattersonhad allegedly served with Robert Booth Nichols in Vietnam, and Raymond Lavas hadaccess to Michael Riconosciuto's hidden computer tapes.
Both men were watching over Bobby Riconosciuto while Michaelwas in jail. I said I would do the best I could to arrange the interviews. Bobby was the only person communicating with these individuals and only she knewhow to contact them. I never mentioned to Littman that I had been communicatingwith Robert Nichols on the phone. I can't say what my reasoning was at thetime. Intuition, I suppose.
Bobby Riconosciuto reluctantly agreed to set up theinterviews with Patterson and Lavas, though she pointed out that neither mantrusted journalists. I naively assured her that Littman would be okay. It isnoteworthy that Littman had been communicating with Bobby and Michael forseveral months prior to my introduction to them, yet, they didn't completelytrust him at that stage of their relationship. When they learned of hisrelationship with Ben Kalka, they didn't trust him at all.
Elizabeth Riconosciuto's fifth birthday party was scheduledto be celebrated at the La Mirada Gateway Holiday Inn on February 14, 1992 at 11a.m.. Reportedly, Patrick Moriarty and Marshall Riconosciuto had a financialinterest in the hotel and they were paying the bills.
Littman and I decided that would be a good weekend to confidentially interviewRobert Booth Nichols and Peter Zokosky in Los Angeles, and it would give Littmanthe opportunity to meet Bobby Riconosciuto facetoface. Wewould also squeeze the Patterson/Lavas interviews in during that time.
Michael Riconosciuto was cooperative about allowing his wifeto be interviewed by Littman because it would give the journalist a closeup viewof Michael's "family" in action. Tom Olmstead, Michael's lawyer, wasscheduled to attend the birthday party as was Patrick Moriarty and MarshallRiconosciuto. After the luncheon celebration, the children and those adults whowanted to tag along would go to Disneyland.
Michael Riconosciuto had dual motives for wanting Littman inattendance. Olmstead had been instructed to pressure Littman to reveal "who"had sent the incriminating 1983 "drug" transcript to the prosecutingattorney in Michael's trial - only Littman knew if it had been Ben Kalka orLittman himself. (Littman had obtained it originally from Peter Zokosky).
On Tuesday evening, February 11th, Littman confirmed a Thursday appointment withRobert Booth Nichols. However, he stressed that Nichols had insisted that themeeting be kept absolutely confidential. No one in media or MichaelRiconosciuto's circle was to know of the interview.
I agreed, but explained that I had already mentioned briefly to Michael that I "planned"to interview Nichols at some future date. Michael had said he understood theimportance of interviewing Nichols and he would cooperate. I even asked Michaelto notify Tony Patterson and Raymond Lavas, via Bobby, that Littman and I wouldbe interviewing them during our trip to Los Angeles.
Littman said that was alright, but I was to tell no one else associated withMichael. I noted to Jonathan that he might want to inform Nichols that I hadalready mentioned to Michael that I "intended" to interview Nichols atsome time in the future. Littman said leave it at that. No problem.
Littman spent the night at my home in Mariposa on Wednesdaynight. The following morning, on February 13th at 7 a.m., we departed for LosAngeles. Strangely, at the last moment, Littman decided to follow us to LosAngeles in his own car. I rode intermittently with Littman, then with myhusband, during the fivehour drive. At hour intervals, Littman pulled off thefreeway to report to Nichols - and to a police officer in San Francisco whom hedid not identify, but described as his "security."
At noon, we arrived at Nichols' Sherman Oaks apartment building. Littmanpunched in #68 and spoke briefly to Nichols, who buzzed the door open. AtNichols' apartment, #103, Littman pointed out the electronic security system onthe front door, then at the last moment, instructed my husband to wait in thevan. We owned a 1991 Chevrolet conversion, so he napped and watched televisionthe rest of the afternoon. Towards the end of the fivehour meeting, Nicholsinvited him up for coffee and cake.
Peter Zokosky and his wife (former Mayor of Indio), Robert Booth Nichols and hiswife, Ellen, were present inside the apartment. Littman had previously warnedme that the apartment was electronically wired to detect any listening devices Imight be wearing on my body. I said I had none.
Littman had also warned me that I would be seated on a couch next to a stuffedlion which had a tape recording device (bug) under its tail. Sure enough, whenI entered the apartment, I was seated on a white couch near the lion. A giantanaconda skin hung stretched across the wall. European and African relicsdecorated the apartment. It was instantly obvious that Nichols and his wifedidn't live in the apartment, it was a meeting place.
Nichols smoked cigarettes and as a result, kept the upstairs windows in theapartment open, allowing a cool February breeze to flow through the apartment. Nerves, and the cool air induced me to keep my light coat on during most of theinterview. At first, Peter Zokosky, a friendly, congenial man, did most of thetalking. As the conversation warmed up, Nichols entered intermittently, thentook over completely.
A formal gourmet luncheon was served of curried soup, salmon and turkey fingersandwiches, wine and homemade strawberry cake. Ellen Nichols was the perfecthostess, but rarely said a word.
At one point during lunch, Nichols instructed Ellen to get the camera and snap afront and side picture of me, which she carried out silently. There was noexplanation given for the picture. After lunch, Nichols often stood or sat atthe open window while he talked and smoked. It was cold and rainy, and Iwondered why he kept glancing down at my van. Littman frequently left the roomto attend to something in the back of the apartment. I was unable to determinewhat he was doing, but noticed that he took no notes and never once joined inthe conversation.
Nichols was aptly described in magazine articles as "Clark Gable withoutthe ears." But his mannerisms were intense, simultaneously controlled anddramatic. I intuitively sensed the violence in him, but only through his eyes. He studied me intently as I spoke, making every effort to throw me off balanceby continuously correcting me. He also would not speak while I wrote on mynotepad, stopping mid-sentence each time I put pen to paper.
It worked in some cases, but I finally rallied. I was in HIS apartment, withwomen present, though they were busy in the kitchen, and my husband was parkedoutside the apartment. I was certainly in no physical danger, so I gatheredmyself and bluntly asked the questions I had driven 350 miles to ask.
Referring to the U.S. currency and gold transfers into Swiss bank accounts,Nichols admitted that he was contracted by the government to "handle"the 42 Cobra helicopters which Michael had said were stored in Europe, thenshipped to Iraq via North Korea.
At first he would not say what he did with the helicopters, but then revealedthe entire operation. John Vanderwerker at Intersect Corporation inIrvine, California, had been the CIAfacilitator. It was a "classified" CIA operation, though Nicholswould not give the name of the White House official behind it. I assumed itwas Michael McManus, but didn't push it. Glenn Shockley had brought Nicholsinto the operation. At least I had verbal confirmation of the operation,and unknown to Nichols, I had the entire paper trail.
Regarding Danny Casolaro, Nichols and Zokosky both insisted thatDanny had been "murdered." Danny's book research had progressed to apoint where he was looking overseas for answers and Nichols had offered todirect him to certain connections that would have completed his investigation.
Nichols confirmed that he was privy to Danny's findings on a regular basis, butchose not to elaborate on the content of his last conversation with Danny.
I continued to press him for information on the "cause" of Danny'sdeath; what had he discovered that caused him to be murdered? Nichols respondeddefiantly that he knew why Danny died, but he said "no journalist orinvestigator had done enough work to be deserving of that information yet."
It was not until the end of the meeting, when we had established a tentativerapport, that Nichols offered to take ME to Europe, as he had Danny, to find theanswers to my investigation of the Octopus. But, he stressed it would be veryexpensive and I would be gone for several months. I remember the probing lookon his face as he made the offer. I had nodded slowly, stating I would give itsome thought. I wondered fleetingly if he was trying to recruit me into the CIA? Or create a new Manchurian Candidate?
Regarding the stolen PROMISE software, Nichols said he believed MichaelRiconosciuto had been contracted by the government to "derail"Bill Hamilton at Inslaw. According to Nichols, Michael DID have the PROMISsoftware codes. Allegedly, Peter Zokosky's "brother" sold copiesof the software to Israel. Zokosky nodded in agreement at that statement.
Nichols said Michael HAD to know he was going to be arrested for operating ameth lab, but he (Michael) thought the FBI would bail him out again. Someonenamed (Admiral) Al Renkin allegedly "covered Michael's drug act."
I never knew what that meant and didn't pursue it, as I wasn't there to learnabout Michael Riconosciuto.While we were on the subject of drugs, I took the opportunity to questionNichols's involvement. I lead in by describing the drug situation in Mariposa county, adding that the entire country seemed to be economicallydependent on the drug trade. Nichols nodded in full agreement, then noted thatEurope's economy was completely dependent on drug money. Without drugs, banksand whole countries would collapse financially.
We moved into another area of discussion. Peter Viedenieks was an associate ofEarl Brian, according to Nichols. Other names were tossed around such asSenator Terry Sanford, a family friend of Earl Brian. Sanford was Nichols' linkwith Earl Brian. And, noted Nichols, Viedenieks was associated with Earl Brianthrough Hadron Corporation.
Allegedly, all of these fellows had met at Nichols' "007" PlayaDel Ray condo at one time or another, including Viedenieks.
It is noteworthy that at the time of this meeting, neither Nichols or I couldhave foreseen the importance of this information. The issue of Viedenieks'connection with Earl Brian or Terry Sanford, or even Nichols himself, had notbeen raised publicly yet. At the time, I didn't place any particularsignificance on Nichols' relationship with Earl Brian or Peter Viedenieks, Ijust took the information at face value and wrote it in my notes.
Nichols reacted violently when I asked him if he had any business dealings withBrunswick Corporation in New Jersey. He jumped up from his chair by the windowand yelled, "Absolutely not!"
I quickly explained that I had looked up Sir Denis Kendall (the famous M16 WorldWar II British officer) in "Who's Who in America" and learned that hehad once been associated with Brunswick. Nichols said he did not know SirDenis Kendall. His eyes told me otherwise.
I noted that was strange since Michael Riconosciuto seemed toknow him well. Nichols and Zokosky exchanged glances. I further explained thatBobby Riconosciuto said she had been to Kendall's home on Doheny Drive inBeverly Hills with her children once. She had often called Kendall when she wastrying to locate Michael, and within hours of calling Kendall, Michael alwayscalled her back. Nichols and Zokosky seemed disturbed by that statement.
I didn't mention that Riconoscituo had stated Kendall was Nichols' supervisor(CIA "handler"), or that J.M., Ted Gunderson's researchpartner, had found a brochure in Ted's files advertising for Swedish nurses at amedical research complex in Mexico. The brochure contained both Gunderson'spicture and Sir Denis Kendall's.
I had obtained all of the documents pertaining to Nichols' current lawsuitagainst Thomas Gates of the Los Angeles FBI, his corporate activities and hisweapons permits. Nichols had been investigated by Gates for allegedly turningover sensitive information to organized crime figures in America and the "Yakuza"crime syndicate in Japan.
Nichols' corporation, Meridian International Logistics, Inc. (MIL), the parentcompany to Meridian Arms, had filed a lawsuit against Gates for contactingNichols' European and Japanese business associates.
As a result, not only were Nichols' weapons permits cancelled, but hisassociates were allegedly intimidated by the investigation, thus damagingNichols' ability to transact business.
I was curious about how far Nichols would take the lawsuit, and exactly what thenature of the research was that MIL fronted to the Japanese. I started out byasking Nichols if he had provided a "grant" to a Japanese facility forbiological research? Nichols said he had provided no grant to any Japanesefacility and attempted to change the subject.
Nichols was not evasive, but aggressively direct when he did not want to discusssomething. Michael Riconosciuto had once commented to me thatthe biological technology which Nichols was involved in was "Hitler's wetdream." According to Michael, who was uncharacteristically hesitant aboutdiscussing the subject, "biotechnology was the weapon of the future, makingall other weaponry obsolete."
In Michael's files in the desert, I had retreived a small cylindrical cannister,about six inches in length, with a cap on it. The metal cannister had not beenmarked, and instinctively, I had not opened it, but had placed it on a shelf inour empty guest house in Mariposa.
It was not until months later, after Michael learned I had copies of hisdocuments, that I had asked him what the cannister contained. Michael hadbecome disdraught, explaining that the cannister contained genetic material in ahybridoma base, a military concept, only to be used for military applications. Michael had stolen the cannister from a shipment at Wackenhut destined for KingFahd of Saudi Arabia and placed the sample in his files in the desert. (Proposals had also been underway with King Fahd to provide "security"for his palace).
His voice had been fraught with worry. He implored me to remove the cannisterfrom my property immediately, take it to a "class 4 facility" where itcould be disposed of. I was absolutely NOT to open the cannister as itcontained lethal toxins.
Later, at the meeting with Robert Booth Nichols, I again wondered why armsdealers such as Peter Zokosky and Robert Nichols would be interested in geneticresearch? Five years earlier, Zokosky and Wackenhut Corporation had attemptedto sell "biological warfare viruses" and vaccine kits to the U.S.government to be used against small countries bordering Albania or largecountries bordering the Soviet Union.
I did not openly confront Nichols at his apartment about the above documents,but asked him if he had sold or facilitated the research of specificbiotechnology to the Japanese? Nichols adamantly denied any involvement in anysuch research.
When I rephrased the question, and he realized I knew about the MIL agreements,he admitted that he had in fact facilitated the research of methodology andinduction of cytotoxic TLymphocytes through "five offshore [outofcountry]research institutes." But, he added that the research was "classified"by the sponsoring governments and "secret" and he could not discussit.
When I pressed for the names of the sponsoring governments, he clammed up. HadI known more about the technology at the time, I would have pointedly questionedhim about the properties of the virus, but in retrospect, my ignorance openeddoors that otherwise wouldn't have been opened.
I did, however, mention to Nichols and Zokosky that Michael Riconosciutohad allegedly worked on the same technology at Hercules Research in the early1980's, reportedly using fish for incubation purposes.
Zokosky responded, embarking upon a lengthy discourse on the processes by which "they"had incubated the virus in cow uterises and udders in biolabs twenty floorsbeneath the ground. But Nichols interjected, discontinuing the narrative. Itwas obvious that both men were becoming agitated, so I dropped the subject forthe time being.
Regarding Thomas Gates, Nichols expressed real anger and noted he would take thelawsuit against Gates as far as it would go. He said he didn't care if he wasawarded any money (he was sueing for $11 million), but he would ruin Tom Gates,no matter what it took.
A thought crossed my mind that he was about to say that he would kill him, butinstead, he sat silently glaring, waiting. I asked him how much the lawsuit hadcost him so far, and he said not a dime. Originally, Michael McManus hadadvised Nichols, but then the case was handled by John Rowell.
It was already apparent that Nichols was warming to the interview, in adisarming, contentious sort of way. We were reaching a common ground, anetherworld of danger and intrigue. The room became his stage, the people hisaudience. He never took his eyes from mine, making every effort to distract mefrom my notes.
Unquestionably, he was a "game" player. The more I entered the game,the better he liked it. It was a trade off, I gave him a little information, hegave me a little. But he gave as much as he took ...
I asked him about his relationship with MCA corporation. He said EugeneGiaquinto, President of MCA Home Entertainment Division, had resigned from hiscompany, MIL, after the FBI investigation was underway.
But Giaquinto was a smart man, noted Nichols. He had learned much from the man. Giaquinto drove an older car, as did Nichols. They hid their assets, livingmodestly when in the U.S., keeping a low profile. The FBI would "prove"nothing, said Nichols. He added that MCA Corporation was "going broke,"and the only division that was making a profit was the home entertainmentdivision, which Giaquinto headed.
I recalled privately the conversation in which Michael Riconosciutohad told R.J. that MCA was currently facilitating the largest leveraging scamever conceived of in this country. MCA was subsequently sold to the Japanese,but I had no idea what connection that had to the above referenced conversation.
Nichols continued to lead the conversation towards Riconosciuto. Nichols and Zokosky could not understand why Ted Gunderson testified forMichael at his trial in Washington state. At a previous dinner party atNichols' apartment in Sherman Oaks, Ted reportedly told the two men that Michaelhad loaned him (Gunderson) $60,000 for a joint business venture. Ted still owedMichael the money.
It is noteworthy that Ted also supplied Robert Booth Nichols an affidavit forHIS lawsuit against Thomas Gates.
Ellen Nichols had mentioned during lunch that Michael often buried secretdocuments and equipment. Obviously, they were trying to learn what documents Ihad acquired. I had not uncovered any "buried" documents, but hadobtained his private files from the trailer in the California desert. I did notreveal this to Nichols, assuming that Littman had kept my secret.
However, as the conversation progressed, I came to realize that Nichols did,indeed, know I had obtained Michael's files. One statement which Nichols saidin the presence of Jonathan Littman surprised me. Littman continued to leavethe room to attend to something in the back of the apartment. When he returned,I asked Nichols to repeat what he had just said. Nichols obliged by reiteratingthat "Michael Riconosciuto would kill me if he learnedthat I had obtained his private documents."
I asked him "why" he believed Michael would kill me over that? Nichols seemed to want confirmation of something I'd obtained, somethingspecific, but wouldn't define what it was and I had no intention of revealinganything to him at that point.
He randomly discussed the (coroner's grand jury) affidavit in which Riconosciutohad accused Phillip Arthur Thompson of killing Paul Morasca (Michael's partner)in San Francisco. Thompson had worked for the FBI under the code name of "Jason"in some capacity which Nichols would not define.
But, according to Nichols, it was Riconosciuto who hadtortured and killed Paul Morasca. Peter Zokosky corroborated Nichols' comment. Both men said the torture of Paul Morasca was Michael's "style" thatMichael had discussed torture techniques of that nature to Nichols prior toMorasca's death.
They added that "Jason," Phillip Arthur Thompson, was not so creativein his killing style. Thompson had allegedly killed many people in his career,but he chose to use a gun and get the job done quickly. Nichols also said atlunch, with Ellen listening, that he knew who killed Mary Quick. Ellen rolledher eyes at her husband and beseeched him to change the subject. I askedNichols to name the killer or at least give me a clue. Nichols said the killerof Mary Quick had been arrested and released. Obviously they were talking about"Jason," who HAD been arrested and released.
Nichols and Zokosky both agreed in a conversation between themselves thatMichael Riconosciuto had caused the death of other peoplealso. Nichols repeated at least three times to my face, with Zokosky andLittman nodding in agreement, that he believed Michael would kill me.
I privately wondered why Nichols was making such an issue of this? I wouldunderstand soon enough. Meanwhile, Nichols continued to press his point. Hesaid Michael was a patient man and would wait as long as necessary to accomplishthis. I did not respond, as I had become somewhat immuned to the threat bythen.
Littman had made similar statements on the drive up to Sherman Oaks. I simplydid not perceive Riconosciuto as a killer. Nevertheless, Iasked Nichols how Michael would kill me if he was in jail? Nichols said itwould be done by one of Michael's "drug flunkies." He saidRiconosciuto HAD worked for the government, and had been "rescued" bythe FBI for years. He added that Michael could get away with murder.
I was becoming unresponsive to the game, so I presume Nichols decided it wastime to "set the hook." It was not until two years later that Iunderstood the significance of this incident. At one point during ourconversation, and completely out of context with what we were discussing,Nichols played a video tape of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The southern wall of Nichols' apartment contained a sixfootwide screen on whichI watched a blownup (enlarged), slow motion "uncut" version of thefamous Zapruder film.
I watched what appeared to be the standard media version of the film, seen somany times in film clips over the years, but then Nichols slowed the camera evenmore, and on the sixfoot screen, I observed the driver of the limousine turn tohis right, first looking at Connolly, then at Kennedy. The driver's left handcame over his right shoulder, and he was holding a long barreled gun. Smoke anda bullet emerged from the gun, traveling ever so slowly across the screen intoKennedy's head, blowing brain tissue into the air as he fell back against theseat.
Stunned, I watched Jacqueline Kennedy open her mouth in horror as she glanced atthe driver, then try to climb over the back seat of the car.
Littman and Zokosky and I stared at the scene in silence, unable to believe whatwe were seeing. Nichols then changed the tape and showed what he described asthe "media" version of the Zapruder tape. In the media version, thedriver continued to drive, unflinching, as the shots rang out. Then the sceneswitched to the back part of the limousine.
At this point, Nichols stopped the frame and pointed with a stick at a tree inthe background behind the limousine. From the middle of the tree to the ground,there was no trunk, just air. The top part of the tree was growing in air!
I demanded that my husband be allowed to see the film. I felt I must have beenhypnotized. When he arrived, he viewed both films up close, in slow motion, andsaw the same thing. Nichols played both tapes backwards and forwards as oftenas we demanded, until the memory of it was burned forever into our minds.
I wondered if the video had been tampered with. I asked Nichols where he hadobtained the original "uncut" version? He would not say. I had noidea at that time that his F.I.D.C.O. partner, Clint Murchison, Jr.'s father hadhad instant access to the Zapruder film immediately after the assassination inDallas, Texas.
Nichols studied me for the longest time, then walked over to the window and lita cigarette. He finally commented that the CIA can cover up anythingit wants, even a president's murder. He wanted to show me the power of theOctopus. "Nothing is as it appears to be," he said.
Somehow, that statement rang true. He then noted that he'd read my first book,the one I had sent him, then handed me a book entitled, "The Search for theManchurian Candidate." He told me to read it, appraising me silently. Inwardly, I recalled a conversation with J.M., in which she related aconversation she'd had with Ted after a dinner engagement with Nichols. Nicholshad reportedly stated to Ted that he headed a 200man assassination team. Jackiehad been too frightened to elaborate on this conversation, but had pointed outthat Nichols once worked in the MKUltra (Manchurian Candidate) program duringthe Vietnam war. This program was part of the "Phoenix Project." Interestingly, numerous publications had mentioned that Earl Brian had alsoparticipated in the Phoenix Project during the war.
Nichols' sister was allegedly a professional hypnotherapist, and Nichols himselfwas reportedly trained in the art of hypnotism. According to Riconosciuto,they all called themselves "The Chosen Ones," wore skull andcrossbones rings, and shared a common interest, if you could call it that, inthe old German SS occultism, its tribal and inner circle rites.
As I was preparing to leave, Nichols pointed his finger at me and reminded me ofthe agreement I had made with him through Littman. I asked him what agreement? He said the agreement that I would tell noone about this meeting. I againassured him that I would mention it to noone. He said I had better not or Iwould end up like the rest ...
When we finally left Nichols' apartment around five p.m., I told Littman I didnot intend to accept any more collect calls from Michael Riconosciutoat the Tacoma jail. I might even wrap up the whole investigation at that point,because I had more than enough material for a story or a book.
Littman proceeded to issue a warning which I recorded in my notebook in the car. It read as follows: "Littman warned me today to watch out. Noone gets outof this alive. No one walks. If I cut them off, it would be very dangerous." I was completely numb at that point, and unresponsive to any further threats.We agreed to meet at 11:00 a.m. at the La Mirada Gateway Holiday Inn in LaMirada the following day to attend Elizabeth Riconosciuto'sbirthday party. Tom Olmstead, Michael's lawyer, would be flying in for themeeting, Ted Gunderson and J.M. would be there, Patrick Moriarty would bepicking up Olmstead at the airport, Raymond Lavas would be there and possiblythe elusive Tony Patterson, if Bobby could arrange it. Also expected was JaniceWynogradsky, the Australian reporter who produced the news story for AustralianT.V.
I was exhausted and looked forward to a restful evening, but first I drove tothe nearest toy store and purchased some birthday presents for Elizabeth.
That evening, I mentally reviewed the day's events. Nichols and Littman wereundoubtedly screwing with my head. The doctored Zapruder tape gave themdeniability. The information I had obtained at the meeting may or may not havehad value, but I knew one thing, the deaths surrounding Riconosciutoand Nichols were real enough.
Behind the smoke and mirrors labyrnthe was a story, one they were workingvery hard to conceal. I felt sure the corporate and government connections werelittle more than "fronts" for large scale drug trafficking.
At 7:30 a.m. the following morning, Bobby Riconosciuto calledthe hotel where we were staying (the La Mirada Gateway Holiday Inn) and informedme that the luncheon meeting had been changed to a new location and JonathanLittman was not going to be allowed to attend.I explained that I had not heardfrom Jonathan, did not know where he was staying, and could not get in touchwith him to tell him about the change. Bobby and I argued about theinconvenience to Littman. I told her that Jonathan and I were not puppets to bemanipulated by she or Michael. Bobby argued back that Olmstead had not shown upat the airport, Ted and J.M were having a tiff, and she did not trust Littmanbecause of his relationship with Ben Kalka and Robert Booth Nichols.
She did not want her daughter's birthday turned into a "circus." Iagreed with that aspect of the meeting, however, Bobby still had not arranged aninterview with Raymond Lavas or Tony Patterson. Bobby argued that she did notthink Lavas or Patterson would talk to Littman. I pleaded with her to arrangethe appointments for Littman's sake, since he had driven from San Rafael forthat purpose. I explained to her that it was important that Littman be presentat the interviews with Lavas and Patterson because I was working on the Mariposastory with him and we had made an agreement.
Bobby asked me directly if I had interviewed Robert Booth Nichols? I said I hadnot. I felt it was really none of Bobby's business. I qualified that, however,by saying that I expected to interview Nichols at some time in the future. Bobby said she understood and would attempt to arrange the interviews with Lavasand Patterson for the following day, Sunday.
It is noteworthy that Littman wanted to interview Tony Patterson becausePatterson "claimed" to have been in Vietnam (Phoenix/MK-Ultra) withboth Earl Brian and Robert Booth Nichols. I doubted that. To my knowledge,Nichols had never served in the military.
Patterson had a rather provocative story to tell about Nichols. Allegedly,Nichols had smuggled several gold icons out of Vietnam into the U.S. He laterkilled the pilot so there would be no witnesses, and left Tony Pattersonstranded in Vietnam to be captured and tortured by the Viet Cong. Nichol'sactivities in Vietnam also allegedly included drug trafficking for the CIA,which both Bobby and Michael Riconosciutomaintained was still operational today. THAT sounded closer to the truth.
Bobby called me back and instructed me to arrange a dinner meeting with Littmanthat evening (Saturday) and she would show up to be interviewed, then if Littmanagreed to provide her with the name of the person who had sent the 1983 "drug"transcript to the prosecutor at Michael's trial, she would call Patterson andLavas for interviews on the following day.
I was becoming stressed at that point. The whole weekend was spinning out ofcontrol and I was caught in the middle. I noted to Bobby that I would wait forLittman to show up at the La Mirada Gateway Holiday Inn and tell him the meetinghad been changed to a new location, but that he was not invited. I would thengive him the new meeting time 7:00 p.m. at the Belle Isles restaurant inAnaheim. Bobby agreed to that arrangement.
My husband and I waited until 11:30 a.m., but Littman never showed. He alsonever called to say he would be late. At 11:40 a.m., I left a message forLittman at the front desk apologizing for the sudden change in plans, and saidwe would meet him at the Belle Isles at 7:00 p.m..
Bobby had changed the luncheon to the hotel where she was staying with herchildren in order to be able to sign the tab on Patrick Moriarty's bill. JaniceWynogradsky was present, along with Ted Gunderson, J.M. and her two children. Neither Olmstead, Moriarty nor Marshall Riconosciuto showedup at the birthday party. Elizabeth opened her presents, we ate lunch and cakeand caravanned over to Disneyland. We had a good time with the kids until sixp.m.
At 6:30 p.m., Ted, J.M., Bobby and all the children returned to Bobby's hotelsuite. I drove directly to Belle Isles. At 7:00 p.m., neither Bobby norLittman had appeared for dinner. It turned out that Littman had left a messageat the restaurant that he was sorry he missed us at the La Mirada hotel, butthere was no mention of whether he would be joining us for dinner or not.
I called Sheri Littman, his wife, and she said Jonathan was on his way home. She did not know why.
Bobby Riconosciuto sat with Ted Gunderson and J.M. in herhotel suite and ate pizza. When I called her, she said Ted had detained her atthe hotel, she couldn't get away. My husband and I finished our dinner anddrove to San Diego to see my mother.
I never spoke to Bobby or Michael Riconosciuto again untilone week later when I learned Bobby had requested the return of Michael's eightboxes of documents. My husband had dropped me off at my mother's home andreturned to Mariposa. For days he had been receiving urgentmessages from Bobby requesting that I call her. He simply told her that I wastired and needed a rest.
Michael Riconosciuto called and asked him if we hadinterviewed Robert Booth Nichols? My husband said, "No."
When I returned home, I called Bobby and learned that Littman had toldMichael Riconosciuto all about the meeting withRobert Booth Nichols. Bobby wanted to know why I had lied to her about theNichols meeting? She explained that Littman had also told Michael that hehad dug through Michael's private documents at my home which I had obtained fromMichael's secret trailer in the desert. Bobby had never told Michael aboutthis because Michael had instructed her to stay away from the trailer.
I told Bobby that I did not believe Littman would do such a thing. I added thatif I HAD interviewed Nichols, and he requested confidentiality, I would keep myword to him. There was no reason to discuss such an interview with Bobby orMichael. Bobby accepted that.
However, to convince me that Littman had in fact told Michael about the contentsof the meeting, she recounted that Michael had told her that the meeting tookplace on Thursday, it lasted five hours, and I would not take my coat off duringthe entire meeting, which allegedly made Nichols nervous.
Bobby also stated that I had been seated in a location where I could be scannedfor electronic devices, and since I was not "bugged," Nichols couldnot understand why I didn't take my coat off.
I immediately hung up from Bobby and called Littman. There was no answer at hishome, so I called Robert Booth Nichols. Upon answering the phone, Nicholsimmediately accused me of "breaking my word to him." There was asinister edge to his voice. I explained to him that, to date, I had not spokento Michael Riconosciuto since two days prior to the ShermanOaks meeting on February 13th.
Nichols countered that Littman had called him and told him that "I"had immediately reported to Michael the entire contents of the meeting,because Michael knew all about it. His tone was accusing, attentive, but devoidof anger. Then silence, waiting. I was indeed caught in the tentacles of theOctopus, and I felt the weight of it at that moment.
I told Nichols that I would have Bobby Riconosciuto call himand repeat what she had said to me, that Littman had betrayed both Nichols andmyself.
Nichols laughed. "Why should I believe anything Bobby says? I don't wantto talk to her, and I don't want her to have my telephone number. Did you tellher where we met?" His voice was deeper, throatier, and I felt like afool. Why should he believe her? I was grasping at straws and I had noanswers. Why would Littman betray me, with so much at stake?
I said I would get to the bottom of this and let him know the results. Nicholssaid he was leaving for Australia the next day, would not be back for threemonths. (He had said the same words to Bill Hamilton when he was searching forDanny Casolaro on August 5th).
Nichols said he was VERY interested in hearing the results. "For my sake." He added that I should keep Peter Zokosky apprised of the results of myinquiry, then he hung up.
I called Jonathan Littman and asked him, "What's going on?" His voicewas withdrawn, cautious. "I don't know. What is going on?" Idecided to taperecord the conversation. My life was in danger as a result ofLittman's actions, and I needed a lifeline to save it.
I explained that I had been in San Diego visiting my mother, and when Ireturned, Bobby Riconosciuto related the details of myinterview with Nichols. "She said YOU told Michael everything."
Littman said, "Michael knew the truth."
"I haven't talked to Michael since before the interview with Nichols! Howdid he know about it?"
Littman's voice took on a slow, malignant tone. "What I'm saying is, youtold him beforehand, and you can't play games with people like Michael."
I was astonished. And somewhat flustered. But I wanted to give him everyopportunity to explain himself. "No. No. Something has happened. Something's wrong. Bobby just told me that YOU told Michael all about themeeting. And I told her I didn't believe that. I told her I DIDN'T have aninterview with Robert Booth Nichols ..."
Littman quickly responded, "You shouldn't lie to Michael ..."
I thought to myself, why should I have to report who I interview to Michael orBobby? It was none of their business. But instead, I said, "Bobby told meshe knew I interviewed Robert Booth Nichols on Thursday, for five hours, and Iwore my coat through the entire meeting. And she said, `That made Nicholsparanoid.' Now, how in the hell could she have known that?"Littmananswered in an eery, robotic voice, "I want to tell you something ..."
I interrupted, " ... And how did she know that I allowed you to look atMichael's documents, Jon?"
Littman began again, "She didn't. She only knows you have them ..."
Littman was being evasive, outright lying. I was becoming increasinglyfrustrated. I hated being reduced to that level of conversation. But so muchdepended on it. "John, Bobby said Michael called her. Michael NEVER knewI had those boxes until YOU told him. Bobby said YOU revealed to him that youhad seen the documents, seen the diary, seen everything."
I had withheld portions of the diary from Littman, amongst other things. Icouldn't understand why he would have alarmed Michael about the diary, or liedabout having it. Michael had risked his life at Wackenhut to obtain the onlycopy, broken into Dr. John Nichols' office to retreive it, and fled toWashington state to begin a new life. He had thought it was secure in thedesert. Now I had it. And Michael knew Bobby and I had kept the secret fromhim. And Littman had betrayed us both.
I continued ... "How would Michael have known that I didn't take my coatoff in the meeting with Nichols? Nobody knew that except you, Jon."
Littman stayed cool as ice. "Let me get one thing straight with you. Igave you the conditions under which you were to meet with Nichols ..."
" ... And you betrayed those conditions by telling Michael that we weregoing to interview Nichols. And that put all of us in an awkward position ..."
I was astonished at how twisted the whole situation had become. I stammered, "Jonathan,I didn't know I HAD an appointment with Nichols at the time I told Michael that. I simply told him I PLANNED to interview him at sometime in the future. Ihaven't spoken with Michael since the interview with Nichols? But YOU have ..."
Littman continued his train of thought, disregarding what I had said. "Onceyou told Michael you planned to interview Nichols, then you had to tell himeverything. You had to tell the truth."
I asked pointedly, "Did YOU tell him the truth?"
Perversely, he confessed, "I told him the truth exactly. Because heknew we'd been there. And I'm not going to lie to Michael. He knew we'd beenthere ..."
I interjected, "But you gave your word to Robert Booth Nichols that youwould never divulge the contents of the meeting to anyone. How could you dothat?"
Littman attempted to change the subject, to put me on the defensive. "YOUare now the fly in the spider's trap ... You gotta be staight with all thesepeople. With Michael, with Zokosky, with Nichols, these people can figure thesethings out. They're not dumb people."
"John, I've been straight with all of them. Every one of them. I havenever betrayed any of them, other than to provide you, as a journalist, withsome documents you requested ..."
He interrupted me, still speaking meticulously, ever so slowly. "Youcannot fool people like Michael and Bobby and Ted Gunderson. Michael knew themeeting was going to take place. And it's not a good idea to go back and tellhim a story that something didn't happen when it did happen."
There was a monotonous singsong to his voice. He sounded like a tape recording.I was incredulous. Why was I defending myself to this man? I tried once again. "Michael doesn't control my life. I didn't tell him the meeting never tookplace. I NEVER SPOKE TO MICHAEL AFTER THE MEETING WITH NICHOLS! I didn't lieto him because I haven't spoken with him. I was in San Diego. I stillhaven't spoken to Michael. Why can't you understand that?" "Well,you're in the middle of it, because you're involved with Bobby and ..."
" ... Well, I'm not. That's the point, I'm not. It's a dangerous game andI want no part of it. I made that very clear with Bobby today when I spoke withher, which is the first time I've spoken with her since the meeting in ShermanOaks."
" ... You told Michael that you were going to have a meeting with ..."
I was determined to get a confession from Littman. My life might depend on it. "Jonathan! Jonathan! You stood in that room with Robert BoothNichols, and you heard him say aloud in front of both us, that if Michael everfound out what I have [the documents], he would kill me. I would be dead. Doyou remember when he said that?"
" ... Yet you told Michael you had come to my home and seen his documentsfrom the desert? Why?"
Littman repeated over and over the same words. "You lied to Michael. Thatwas very stupid ..."
I wondered if he was intoxicated. I cut in, "You set me up. You calledNichols immediately after YOU told Michael about the meeting. Then you calledNichols and told him that "I" told Michael about the meeting. Now,Nichols just told me that today. Why did you do that, Jonathan?"
Jonathan did not deny setting me up, but stammered lamely, "I ... I did notappreciate your phone call to Nichols earlier today. You have placed me in anawkward position with Zokosky and Nichols ..."
So, Nichols had informed Littman of my phone call! Had he accused Littman ofbetraying him to Michael? I would probably never know the answer to that. Iresponded, "I called Nichols and asked him what was going on? How in theworld could this have come about? I told Nichols what Bobby had said."
Littman was outraged that I had called Nichols and conveyed what Bobby had said. He was also outraged that Bobby had called me and confronted me about theNichols meeting. Obviously THIS had not been in the scheme of things. Littman had obviously NOT expected Bobby to confront me.
After the Los Angeles fiasco, I had been fed up with her treatment of Littmanand was cooling off in San Diego for a week. I had told Littman that Iwouldn't be speaking with either Bobby or Michael again. Littman hadunderestimated Bobby's determination to speak to me, and my assertiveness incalling Nichols. His plan had backfired. Perhaps he had expected me to bedead before I had an opportunity to talk to anyone?
I was immediately alarmed about the synopsis and backup documents I had turnedover to Littman on the Mariposa drug lab. It had included thenames of the Indians who had confided in me. We had planned to do a storytogether for the San Francisco Chronicle. "John, can I ask you one morequestion? Did you ever send the Mariposa information to the Chronicle?"
He answered curtly, "No."
"You asked me to send it to you. Why didn't you send it to the Chronicle? Why did you even ask for it?"
Jonathan hissed at me. "You lied to Riconosciuto's wife,or your husband did [regarding the Nichols meeting], and as a consequence ofthat, you're in hot water. I warned you about this whole thing ..."
"I'm in hot water because YOU betrayed me to Michael," I countered.
Again he repeated, "I told him EXACTLY what happened. You're a fool,and you better start getting smart ... I think you should think twice aboutcontinuing with this ..."
The Indians who had turned in the drug lab were at risk. Jonathan had theirnames, including detailed information on two deputies implicated in growingmarijuana and distributing methamphetamine on the Indian reservation in Mariposa. I wanted my paperwork back.
"Jonathan, there's something I need to know right now. This is important. You have information on Mariposa ..."
Jonathan hung up. I paced the floor of my office for a moment, then called himback. He didn't answer, but I knew he was standing by the phone while I talkedinto his answering machine. I informed him that I intended to documenteverything that had transpired at the Nichols meeting, including his betrayal ofme to both Nichols and Riconosciuto, and that he hadattempted to set me up to be killed by one or both of these men.
I said I was taking the report to the nearest U.S. Attorney and sending a copyto his editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. And, I wanted my Mariposapaperwork returned.
I then called Robert Booth Nichols, but there was no answer at his home, so Icalled Peter Zokosky. Zokosky, as always, was friendly and congenial, andconfirmed that Nichols was very interested in the results of my inquiry. Irecounted the conversation I'd had with Littman, in which he had confessed hisbetrayal, and offered proof of the conversation.
Zokosky said that would be fine and he would pass the information along toNichols. On Sunday, February 23rd, I again talked to Bobby Riconosciuto. We again discussed what Littman had done and why he had attempted to convinceNichols that I had betrayed him [Nichols] to Riconosciuto.
Bobby and I both acknowledged that Michael had knowledge of Nichols'government and drug activities over a twentyyear time span. Unquestionably,Nichols wanted to discredit Michael in any way he could ... or deter anyone fromobtaining Michael's information.
Suddenly, Bobby said she believed I was being "set up for a hit." Isaid I thought Michael was being set up with Robert Booth Nichols.
Someone, whoever was controlling Littman, was trying to create friction betweenMichael and Nichols, and attempting to use me to do it. My friendship withBobby had unexpectedly thrown a monkeywrench into their plans.
Bobby confided that Michael had taperecorded the conversation in which Littmanhad reported the contents of the Nichols meeting. Michael had called a "friend,"and had the friend patch Michael through to Littman. The conversation had thenbeen monitored and tape recorded by the third party (obviously Ted Gunderson whoperformed this functon often). Bobby agreed to send me a copy of thetaperecording.
I asked her why Littman would try to turn both Nichols and Michael against me. Professional jealousy? Bobby said, "No, the same thing happened to DannyCasolaro."
Littman had been talking to Danny Casolaro regularly, as well asNichols and Riconosciuto at the time of Danny's death. Yet,Littman had never written a single word about Danny -- or Robert Booth Nichols!!
We both agreed that someone was being set up, but Bobby insisted that it was me. She said she needed to check something out and she would call me back. Shortlythereafter, Bobby called back and breathlessly stated she had confirmed that Iwas about to die. She would not say who she had talked to, but intuitively, Ifelt it was Ted Gunderson.
Bobby said if I died, Michael would be held responsible. I had received collectcalls daily from him for three months, then cut off all communication with himafter meeting with Nichols. I had obtained ALL of Michael's documents in thedesert without his knowledge, until recently. I held in my possession the bankcards which Paul Morasca and Mary Quick had died for.
It was a perfect set up, noted Bobby. Everyone, including my own husband, wouldbelieve Michael had contracted my death. Inwardly, I recalled the numerousstatements by Nichols and Littman and Zokosky that "Michael would kill me."
Undoubtedly, they had expected me to repeat those statements to others, perhapsother reporters, or friends, or relatives. Who, in turn, would have repeated itto the police "after my death."
In fact, I hadn't repeated it to anyone, but it WAS scattered throughout mynotes. Bobby advised me to get out of the house immediately, then call the FBI,the U.S. Attorney, the police or anyone else I could think of immediately. "They'regoing to kill you, if you don't RUN!," she yelled.
She said she was going to hang up, and when she called back, she didn't want meto be in the house. I became somewhat alarmed because of the various deathssurrounding Michael Riconosciuto. Regardless whether anyonebelieved him or not, the deaths were NOT make-believe. To name just a few: Mary Quick; Paul Morasca, Michael's former partner; Michael May who had visitedRiconosciuto in jail two weeks before his death; Dennis Eismann, a lawyerMichael tried to hire; and of course, Danny Casolaro who hadbeen introduced to the Octopus through Michael Riconosciuto. There were otherswith less direct connections.
Just three months after Danny's death, I had been approached by Riconosciuto,and the game of Dungeons and Dragons had begun again, this time with a newplayer. It seemed as if Nichols and Michael and Ted, and others, played a reallife game, and when one of the players got "accidented" or "suicided"(as Ted called it), they simply recruited new players. Oddly, Michael had oncesaid that anyone could leave "the game" by simply dropping out whilethey were still alive. Once it was known they had dropped out, they were leftalone - if they kept their mouths shut.
Michael had used journalists to gather information he needed to stay abreast ofthe game. It was a subtle form of blackmail he used on Nichols and Ted and,indeed, the government whom he had worked for. I had once asked him why "they"didn't just kill him. He had answered that they didn't want to kill him. Theywanted his technology. The FMC deal was, in fact, still on hold. The deathsaround him were "punishment" for his indiscretions, and to keep a lidon their biological warfare, hightech weaponry, and largescale heroin andcocaine operations worldwide.But who would believe it all? There were hundredsof deadend gopher trails ... dried up corporations, discredited witnesses, deadbodies. Nichols had said only days before, in Littman's presence, that my deathwould be brought about by one of Michael's "drug flunkies." Who wouldbelieve otherwise?
Littman had seemed adamant, even outraged, that I HADN'T reported the contentsof the Nichols meeting to Riconosciuto. Why? When it wasLittman who originally warned me not to? When I didn't, Littman reported ithimself.
Somehow, the success of the scheme had hinged upon Riconosciutohaving knowledge of the meeting. I had unexpectedly kept my word to Nichols. Of course I had. My life depended on it. And, why had Nichols made a point ofshowing me the Zapruder film? What possible significance could that have on myinvestigation?
(Two years later, after speaking with Dick Russell, author of "The Man WhoKnew Too Much," a 17year investigation of the Kennedy assassination, andGarby Leon at Silver Pictures, we theorized that the film had been shown toprovide Nichols with "deniability." If I had mentioned the showingof the film to anyone in media, and placed any credibility on it, it would haveinvalidated everything else that took place at that meeting.)
The phone rang again, and it was Bobby Riconosciuto. She waseven more agitated than before - and furious that I was still in the house. Iassured her that I was leaving and hung up. I called Ray Jenkinsand Roger Imbrogno and asked them to come to my home in Mariposa. Ray was a former Chief of Police of Merced College and a good friend. Hiscompanion, Roger, was in the State Guard with him. They arrived 45 minuteslater carrying military rifles and a bulletproof vest.
I sat at my computer and documented the whole event, entitled, "Vortex." It was a 17page diary of sorts which began as follows: "The following isa detailed account of an investigation which I began on December 1, 1991 andcontinue to work on intermittently as time allows. In all my years as aninvestigator and journalist, I have never encountered anything as bizarre or asalarming as this story. The purpose of this diary is to document theseoccurrances for my own safety ..."
I did not send the report to the U.S. Attorney as I had threatened to do. Nordid I send it to Littman's editor, Michael Yamamoto, at the San FranciscoChronicle, though I should have. I simply kept it and sent a copy to R.J.,where I'm sure it disappeared, as always, down the big, black hole.
At that point in time, my sense of reality was diminishing. I couldn't tell ifI was overreacting to Bobby Riconosciuto's warning, or if mylack of experience might cause my death by staying at home. Ultimately, Idecided to disappear for a while.
I drove to Fresno to stay with a friend, who subsequently accompanied me toGalveston, Texas where we stayed with her mother for three months. Walking thebeaches of Galveston, I found some measure of balance within myself, andreturned home in June, rested and ready to resume my life. For several monthsafter that, I had no contact with any of the principles in my investigationuntil October, 1992.
Sometime in midOctober, at the offices of the Mariposa Guide, Ireceived a hurried phone call from Dave Massey, standing in the lobby outsidethe Washington D.C. offices of ABC's "20/20" news bureau. I had askedMassey to pick up key documents at the offices of producer Don Thrasher at "20/20"who had been holding them there as a safety precaution for me. ("20/20"had aired an indepth piece on the corruption in Mariposa County and I haddeveloped a friendship with Thrasher at that time).
After Massey emerged from Thrasher's office building, he'd met with John Cohen,investigator for the House Judiciary Committee on Inslaw. They talked for a fewminutes, then Cohen asked Massey if he would turn over my documents to him?Massey excused himself and hurriedly called me at my office in Mariposa. I instructed him NOT to hand over the documents. Most of them were myoriginals and I had no copies. (Thrasher had flown into California to pick thedocuments up, but we hadn't had time to make copies).
However, I mentioned to Massey that he was welcome to give Cohen my telephonenumber if he wished. Shortly thereafter, Cohen called me at my home and we hadnumerous conversations during the next several weeks. It was my understandingthat he was the lead investigator in the House Judiciary Committee's threeyearinvestigation of the Inslaw stolen software. The final Investigative Report,dated September 10, 1992, titled "The Inslaw Affair," had already beenpublished and I wondered why he bothered to call me.
After much coaxing, I finally agreed to send him some sort of an affidavit. Iwas working as a reporter for the local newspaper and didn't have time to puttogether a detailed report, so I simply attached a notarized cover sheet to "Vortex"and mailed it off to him.
On October 28, 1992, Cohen called back. He was very excited about Vortex. "There'ssome great information here," he observed. "You did a very goodinvestigative job, I have to commend you on that. I realize it's only afraction of everything you have. What you have done, you have put thepieces of the whole thing together. Little bits and pieces of things that Ihave known about, that I had theorized about, you have found the answers tothose specific questions."I explained to Cohen that I planned to publish abook on the subject and his professional opinion was valuable to me.
He added, "You've done some good investigative work here. It puts me in aposition to say, `Yeah, this stuff is good, and this is some stuff you may wantto get out.' In fact, I can put myself out as being available to these mediapeople to be an inside source, for background only, which would also addcredibility to your project."
Cohen hesitated, seemingly uncomfortable with what he was about to say. He drewa deep breath, then proceeded. "You are actually a key witness to thisthing now. And you might want to consider talking to a couple of thehonorable law enforcement people that are still working on this. I do knowthere are currently some FBI investigations that are in place on this ..."
Cohen hesitated again, gathering his thoughts. " ... There has beencoordination on this." He waited for a response, a signal that Iunderstood what he was trying to say. I said I understood.
"It's been unofficial, but there has been coordination. So, I'd like toknow whether ... maybe it would even keep you out of the limelight, whether youwould mind, as long as I talk about it and clear it with you first ..."
Cohen was leading up to something, but having trouble getting to the point. "... There is a certain sharing of information. Some of the leads and some ofthe stuff [in Vortex] (pause) ... Because I'll tell you, one of the biggest hits(pause) ...I always felt that there was a narcotics connection in this ..."
I laughed aloud. Cohen continued ... "regarding internationalnarcotics distribution. And I've sort of made my expertise in my years inlaw enforcement, international narcoterrorism, the weaponsdope connections inthe intelligence agencies ..."
I could only say, "Yes, yes, yes."
" ... And when I was in Los Angeles I did a lot of undercover work withColumbians, where I worked international narcotics conspiracies with DEA and FBIand, being a local police officer, I didn't really get caught up in theirsystems, I just made some great contacts in these agencies. But I also learnedquite a bit about Southeast Asian heroin and the rise of the Medellin Cartelsand the other Cartels in Latin America."
"Yes." By then, I knew Cohen had grasped the significance of theinformation Michael Riconosciutohad attempted to trade to the FBI, as well as Danny Casolaro'sfatal inquiry about Mike Abbell of the DOJ and his connection to GilbertRodriguez and Jose Londono of the Cali Cartel.
Cohen continued ... "And I also ran into quite a few law enforcementprofessionals who were pretty irritated because of the intelligence agency, drugdealer connection."
"Well, the thing that is interesting is, one of the most interestingthings in the whole report, was the article on The Company."
" ... Because that immediately answered, or confirmed, what mysuspicions had been. And I know the exact, right channel to push to getthis thing hooked up. And he's a bigtime ... (pause) See this is a very goodtime for people like us, who are out for purposes of good, to ...(pause) Yousee, right now the FBI is in a war with the Department of Justice. And wouldlike nothing better than to have an investigation that they can discredit theDepartment of Justice with. So, the time is ripe to feed this stuff to theright people."
I agreed that the drug operations needed to be cleaned up, because the drugswere filtering into the smaller communities. But, thinking of Mariposa,I added that there were law enforcement people involved in the drug trade.
Cohen agreed. "I'm very careful with who I deal with. And I think whenthese people contact you, you'll be somewhat surprised."
Reluctantly, I said, "Ok, I will work with them."
Cohen concluded by saying, "You said some real interesting things. Ilike the section where you said `Bob Nichols runs Glen Shockley, Glen Shockleyruns Jose Londono.' Now that corroborates some information that I got in thepast which talked about one of the reasons PROMISE was stolen. You see,I've had a side theory about another reason why PROMISE was taken. And it wasthat PROMISE could also be modified to track money laundering.."
"... And it could also be used as an active information gathering, or anactive moving software program that can go into other data bases. And it couldbe modified to control hundreds of accounts and move money through theinternational banking system."
I interjected, "This is what Michael Riconosciuto wastrying to trade to the FBI and to FinCen ..."
Cohen added, "What a lot of people don't realize is that there are twointernational banking systems. There's CHIPS and SWIFT. And the word SwiftChips has been spread out throughout this whole [investigation]. And a lot ofpeople don't realize what that meant. Well, Swift Chips is a referral to thosetwo clearing house systems. The clearing house interbank payment system andthen the European counterpart, Swift. And they do $2 billion dollars worth ofbanking transactions a day."
" ... And if one was able to move accounts through there, you could movemoney around the world ..."
In a subsequent conversation with Cohen he asked me how I had obtained thedocument in which Ted Gunderson had mentioned their "drug/armsoperation?" (See Page 60)
I explained that I had found it in Michael Riconosciuto'ssecret files in the desert.
Cohen remarked, "That's a great document."